AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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Professional Development for Educators


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.

  1. Professional development should deepen and broaden knowledge of content.
  2. Professional development should provide a strong foundation in the pedagogy of particular disciplines.
  3. Professional development should provide knowledge about the teaching and learning processes.
  4. Professional development should be rooted in and reflect the best available research.
  5. The content of professional development should be aligned with the standards and curriculum teachers use.
  6. Professional development should contribute to measurable improvement in student achievement.
  7. Professional development should be intellectually engaging and address the complexity of teaching.
  8. 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.
  9. Professional development should be designed by teachers in cooperation with experts in the field.
  10. Professional development should take a variety of forms, including some we have not typically considered.
  11. Professional development should be job-embedded and site specific.