Professional Development for Teachers
A school system's most important asset is its teaching force. And, the most important investment a school board, administrators, and parents can make in a school system is to ensure that teachers continue to learn. Continuous, high-quality professional development is essential to the nation's goal of high standards of learning for every child.
Professional development is a continuous process of individual and collective examination and improvement of practice. It should empower individual educators and communities of educators to make complex decisions; to identify and solve problems; and to connect theory, practice, and student outcomes. Professional development also should enable teachers to offer students the learning opportunities that will prepare them to meet world-class standards in given content areas and to successfully assume adult responsibilities for citizenship and work.
- Professional development should deepen and broaden knowledge of content.
- Professional development should provide a strong foundation in the pedagogy of particular disciplines.
- Professional development should provide knowledge about the teaching and learning processes.
- Professional development should be rooted in and reflect the best available research.
- The content of professional development should be aligned with the standards and curriculum teachers use.
- Professional development should contribute to measurable improvement in student achievement.
- Professional development should be intellectually engaging and address the complexity of teaching.
- Professional development should provide sufficient time, support, and resources to enable teachers to master new content and pedagogy and to integrate this knowledge and skill into their practice.
- Professional development should be designed by teachers in cooperation with experts in the field.
- Professional development should take a variety of forms, including some we have not typically considered.
- Professional development should be job-embedded and site specific.
AFT's support for quality teaching and for putting research into practice makes us a powerful partner in efforts to surround teachers with excellent professional development. In 1981, the AFT launched the Educational Research and Dissemination (ER&D) Program—a union-sponsored, research-based professional development program. ER&D was created by the AFT through collaboration between practitioners and researchers to encourage classroom educators to improve their practice and their students' achievement by becoming users of research.