Teacher professional development is a vehicle for teachers to meet the needs of the students in their class. TPD is driven by the vision and mission of governments, school boards, schools, in-school administrators, and the teachers themselves. The important aspects of TPD include identifying needs, engage school administration, collaboration, and reflecting on effectiveness. There are several ways to configure professional development. The delivery and effectiveness varies depending on the method that is implemented.
There are three common models of professional development. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. They are each designed with a different audience in mind. The three models of professional development include:
1. Standardized TPD – in this method, information is distributed to a large number of people. It is usually meant to teach a skill. This method may include teaching skills such as skills for providing AFL testing.
2. Site-based TPD – is delivered at the school or division level in a learning community. They are usually for projects or changes that will last for a long duration. These changes may include behavior policies, curriculum, or teaching methods.
3. Self-directed TPD – this is learning that an individual may deem necessary or important to them. It is usually self-directed. This type of TPD is usually undertaken by advanced or highly motivated teachers. (Gaible and Burns 2003)
Our school has predominantly used self-directed TPD. The teachers at our school are allotted $480.00 a year to use towards their own professional development. They must pay for their substitute teacher out of this cost. They are allowed to accumulate their PD money up to $2000.00. Many teachers at my school have large budgets, because they seldom want to prepare for a substitute teacher to attend PD. They have also not been motivated to go to PD opportunities. The school division which I am employed has offered standardized TPD. This has also been one of the main ways in which the teachers at my school have received TPD. The school division will send out information via e-mail or they will host large group sessions for all teachers. I have recognized a need for site-based TPD. Standardized TPD does not go in-depth provide teachers with an opportunity to have the help they need when they need it. Self-directed TPD is fantastic, but it may not address specific school and school division goals. It also may not allow for a teacher to have the opportunity to collaborate with other colleagues who are easily accessible and ones who they may have a strong relationship with.
This is my first year as a vice principal at my school elementary school. I am also new to the school division. It is my opinion that it is more beneficial to have in-school specialists that can help other teachers with new content. Research by Thomas Guskey found that teachers believe that TPD should be site-based (page 750). I sat down with each teacher at my school and had a lengthy discussion about where we need to focus this year. Our province is implementing new curriculum from grades one through five this year. The teachers identified two important areas that needed attention. Those two areas are First Nation/Metis content and differentiated instruction. I have put a system in place where we are sending six different teachers to two different TPD opportunities this year. After the teachers return from their TPD opportunities, they will be the lead teachers in our school on that content. They will help other teachers to implement the new content. The lead teacher and the rest of the teachers in our school will be provided release time to collaborate. The teachers will have more tools to implement the new curriculum. They will have in-school catalyst teachers at their disposal. The benefits of providing this kind of TPD is that teachers will be able to have access to a catalyst teacher immediately and they will feel comfortable approaching one of their colleagues who works in the same building whom they probably have a strong relationship with. This follows the site-based TPD model, because we are undergoing long term change, thorough, and we will be providing on-site learning communities (Gaible and Burns, 2003)
I believe that all three models of TPD are appropriate for the needs of my teachers. I have exposed my staff to all three kinds of TPD this year. I prepared a video (using Captivate) to show teachers how to submit their attendance using PowerSchool. As I mentioned earlier, I am sending two teachers to an in-service about First Nation/Metis content and four teachers to the National Differentiated Instruction Conference in Las Vegas this July. Finally, I have passed on TPD information to teachers when I know that the in-service is of particular interest to them. All three models of TPD are useful depending upon the situation.
Gaible, E., & Burns, M. (2005). Models and best practices in teacher professional development. In using technology to train teachers: Appropriates uses of ICT for teacher professional development in developing countries (pp. 15-24). Washington, DC: infoDev/World Bank. Retrieved from http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.294.html
Guskey, T. R. (2003). What makes professional development effective? The Phi Delta Kappan, 84(10), 748-750.