With the emphasis on testing and accountability brought on by the Bush administration, squeezing staff development into the busy school schedule has become increasingly difficult. The author examines three programs that have achieved success despite this obstacle, and she finds they share the following characteristics:
1. Instruction that lasts. Instead of a single, hit-or-miss session now and then, training should be ongoing. Sustained instruction takes longer but is much more likely to produce results.
2. Follow-up support. Whether through online mentoring or site visits, teachers should get the support they need to transfer their new skills to the classroom.
3. Motivation. Reward teachers’ efforts with financial incentives, course credits, laptops or other technology tools, public recognition, et cetera.
4. Group projects. Working in teams puts participants at ease, fosters collaboration among colleagues, and inspires better outcomes.
5. Evaluation. Teachers should be responsible for demonstrating what they’ve learned through a final project or classroom observation.
6. Sufficient equipment. Teachers must have the necessary hardware, software, and connectivity to put their new skills to work.
7. Applicability to the larger community. Staff development outcomes should impact the community for the better, such as by facilitating communication with parents and other stakeholders.