How teacher voice can improve professional development

One common faculty complaint of professional development is that it doesn’t lead to improvement. Four years ago that was certainly the way many educators felt here in the Farmington Public Schools in central Connecticut. Even though providing engaging professional development is a hard challenge, we were committed to finding ways to make PD more responsive and relevant. Hearing from our teachers that this was a pain point for them strengthened our resolve to act.

How did we know that so many educators felt overlooked by our professional learning efforts? In short, we asked them. At Farmington, we have collected feedback from students, families, teachers and staff using stakeholder surveys for many years. Our goal is to ask questions and gather data in ways that let us use stakeholder voice to influence and impact district work. As assistant superintendent, I regularly visit classrooms and participate in committees with students, faculty, and staff to better understand teaching and learning across the district. We are constantly looking for ways to strengthen partnerships among all stakeholder groups, and surveys are an invaluable source of information that has an influence on district practice.

For our PD survey, we used an online survey and data collection platform called Panorama Education to ask faculty to reflect on this statement: “The professional development I participated in this year helped me improve my practice.” Four years ago, the results showed that too many faculty did not feel like PD helped them improve.…Read More