In the past, many educators used teacher in-service days to catch up on work, but by offering newer, more meaningful professional development opportunities, administrators can use in-service days to create lasting change in their schools — in-service can help energize and rejuvenate staff by creating a collaborative environment and disseminating best practices throughout the building. There are several ways that administrators can structure in-service days to maximize their benefits. By creating teacher-led activities instead of relying on high-priced outside programs, administrators can make in-service professional development more targeted and effective. The following are ways that teachers and administrators can get more out of in-service days.
Teacher-Designed and Teacher-Led
Traditional in-service days either sent faculty to workshops or brought in an outside consultants. While somewhat helpful, this approach does not target specific student bodies. Teachers know their students better than any other educators, so outside development could easily fail to offer benefits to specific student bodies. Further, it was also very likely that some of the most effective teachers were already implementing practices that outside consultants were presenting.
By establishing a teacher-designed, teacher-led day for teacher in-service, administrators can tailor development specifically for their districts, which is more useful for teachers and staff alike, as well as more productive than traditional in-service days. This teacher-centered approach also offers administrators (or teachers working toward an advanced degree) time to work with other professionals in their own collaborative setting rather than simply monitoring the development of their teachers.
Offer a Choice
One of the most important things for administrators to remember about professional development is that one size does not fit all. Trying to fit every teacher into one session with an external expert is likely to leave many teachers feeling dissatisfied. By creating a catalog of options for teachers, including topics aligned to grade level and subject as well as general classroom management, administrators can give teachers the opportunity to design the day in a manner that best fits their needs. For example, if a teacher would like to implement technology in a new way, a session on the topic would be a much more meaningful use of teacher in-service time than would a session covering generic education topics. Teachers and administrators can target the needs of the school and of specific departments with the right degree of planning.
More Than Just a Day
Professionals often return from conferences or workshops motivated to implement everything they encountered. This can be a wonderful time to make real changes in the classroom. The period following teacher in-service days presents a similar opportunity; however, because teacher-led in-service means teachers instruct each other on-site, follow-up discussions are easier to conduct. Collecting data and planning for the next in-service day can become part of teachers’ regular routines, which can create an entire culture of learning and development as opposed to one beneficial weekend at a conference.
For teacher leaders or for those working on advanced degrees such as an online M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership, creating the best school possible is more than a simple goal: it is a driving motivation. Professional development for faculty and staff can yield a great deal of school improvement. By embracing new ideas, such as relying on in-house professional development, teacher in-service can create real and lasting change in the school while increasing teacher satisfaction.
Learn about the Columbus State online M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership program.
All in a day's work: Maximizing the inservice structure. (9/15). www.teachingquality.org/content/blogs/jessica-cuthbertson/all-day’s-work-maximizing-inservice-structure
Mohd Zulkifli. (2014). The Need for In-Service Training for Teachers and It’s Effectiveness in Schools. International Journal for Innovative Education and Research, 2(11).
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