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Effective teachers’ professional development

Updated: May 30, 2020

Providing an adequate and effective professional development for teachers could be challenging for school authorities, as specific teachers’ needs and teaching contexts are different. Schools should provide teachers with training sessions that do not just fill them with more knowledge, but help them to develop critical skills that would allow them to gradually change their practices, as teachers are normally used to following establish routines, and thus, it could be difficult to make changes in practice. Garet et al. (2001, pp.915-941), in their study on the elements that make professional development effective, found that the relevance of the content in a TPD activities is an important factor. A second feature was the opportunity to engage in active learning by promoting meaningful discussions and also by allowing teachers to observe more experienced teachers. A third feature is the need for TPD activities to help build previous knowledge and skills; the authors also recognise that in order to have high-quality professional development there is a need to incur extra expenses, which is a challenge for most schools and governments. Similarly, in a research study performed by Boyle et al. (2004, pp.45-68) on teachers’ professional development, the findings show that factors such as constructive feedback promote reflection and improvement on the teachers’ practices, while the most popular activities for this were observation of the most experienced colleagues. Aspects such as this clearly demonstrate that there is a need for schools to provide professional development that is based on daily needs, collaborative work and reflective practice, as teacher can have different motivations to improve their practices. Schools need to be able to align this with the design of effective professional development, where also factors, such as the available budget for training, are taken into account.

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