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Districtwide Professional Development

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Background

"Professional development" is the process of ensuring that professionals are constantly learning techniques and information about how to better their skills in their jobs. In education, professional development often takes on the form of attending workshops or seminars. Within the last decade, professional development techniques have focused more on job-embedded development and continuous learning. In an attempt to guarantee that principals, superintendents, and teachers are engaged in professional development, school districts often require individual schools to implement a professional development plan. Some schools meet this objective well, while others do not. To ensure quality professional development for all, many school districts, instead of requiring schools to create their own plan, create a district-wide plan for their schools to implement.

Benefits

District-wide professional development is a way to guarantee there is a professional development plan in place that schools can follow. Furthermore, one plan that is utilized by all the schools in the district helps ensure uniformity and consistency. From this, the district can keep statistics and measure the effectiveness of the professional development plan. Finally, if implemented on a district level, the professional development plan can avoid the pitfalls of local school politics and ensure long-term professional growth.

Examples

Broward County Public School District in Florida is one such district that implements and utilizes a district-wide professional development plan. This district's professional development program, Professional Pathways, ensures that staff development is long-term, based on research, relates to school improvement, and addresses both student and teacher needs. The plan is well designed with a large system support, effective leadership, an evaluation system for feedback and reform, and a willingness to use outside consultants, the extensive community, and parent involvement.

Overall, implementing a district-wide professional development plan is one way to ensure that educators are constantly receiving the professional attention and growth they need in order to do their job even better.

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