The Impact of Great Professional Development
By Derrick Love Ed. D, Assistant Superintendent at Priority Charter Schools
Teachers join the profession to make a significant impact on the lives of students and the communities they serve. No teacher wakes up in the morning and says, “Today I want to be a bad teacher.” Their implied mindset is, “I want to be the best teacher ever! But sometimes I simply do not have the tools within my toolkit to make it happen.” The U.S. Department of Education concluded that student achievement could improve by 21 percentile points as a result of teachers’ participation in well-designed professional development programs. Intentional professional development is the key to building and sustaining high-quality teachers in the classroom.
This year at Priority Charter Schools, we witnessed and experienced how active professional development transforms classroom culture, builds teacher morale and confidence, and increases student achievement. For the past two years, we’ve worked with a CORE, Inc. math consultant who worked side-by-side with our teachers in curriculum planning, instructional delivery, data-driven decision-making, and co-teaching. The most significant “a-ha” moments for our teachers were during the post-conference time or feedback. Teachers were able to gain valuable insight into diverse instructional practices they could readily apply the next day; this meant the world to our teachers. Their confidence skyrocketed in the classroom, and students began to excel at all levels. This positive momentum impacted students as they gained a new level of self-confidence, which directly translated into academic success. This newfound success moved our state accountability performance from 56% to 86%. Essentially, we were able to move our district from an “F” to a high “B” in one academic year. Also, our academic growth moved from 59% to 84%.
Professional development allows every teacher to stay ahead of the game. It nurtures their talents and inspires them to be great in the classroom. We have experienced a remarkable shift in the pedagogy practices of our teachers, and we cannot wait to see even more significant gains this year!