3 best practices for teachers implementing professional development

Summer is the perfect opportunity for professional development. During the summer many teachers spent their “vacation” attending online courses, traveling to workshops, or sitting down for a good read.

As summer fades away and a new school year begins, teachers will be encountering new classrooms filled with new students and new challenges. Now that teachers have taken the time to retain the information they learned from summer professional development, how will they implement it in their classrooms?

While some teachers are empowered by professional development to create a new teaching philosophy, others are given a fresh approach or technique to be more effective in the classroom. Here are three tips teachers can follow to help with transferring what they have learned from summer professional development into their classroom instruction:

Take time for reflection – New information needs time to shift thinking and ultimately change practice. Quality reflection allows for new learning to take place and new ideas become new actions. Teachers need to find time and space to go through this process:

  • Digest the information
  • Envision putting into practice
  • Reflect on any barriers to success so that realistic solutions can be crafted.

Create a plan – Having a plan and end goal in mind when going into professional development sessions can help teachers implement what they learn in their classrooms, even if the focus shifts to testing or other administrative tasks. By redistributing the knowledge to others, such as their principal, mentor, or another teacher, teachers are opening the doors to collaboration and possibly taking what they’ve learned a step further. Through knowledge transparency, teachers are also holding themselves accountable for implementing what they’ve learned.

Put into practice soon – Don’t let the idea sit. If a teacher waits four, five, six months, it will probably disappear. The role of sustained change is an essential element of success. Teachers need time to plan, practice these skills, and try out new ideas, and this may take several implementation cycle iterations to get it right. We encourage teachers to be flexible, thoughtful, and open to feedback which will in turn lend themselves to sustained professional learning. New learning won’t take hold, and teachers won’t buy into it, until they see what it looks like in terms of their work with students and how that work affects achievement.

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