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What Makes For Good Staff Development?

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The American Federation of Teachers has weighed in on the matter in a pamphlet titled "Principles for Professional Development.'' Here are some highlights.

"When there are clearly articulated, high standards for student achievement and when conversations take place about how to help students reach them, professional development is taking place, whatever the formal or informal mechanisms that enable this to happen.

The very organization of school should promote and provide for continuous and serious reflection about what students are learning and what needs to be done to continually improve.''


Professional development should:

  • Ensure depth of content knowledge.
  • Provide a strong foundation in the pedagogy of particular disciplines.
  • Provide more general knowledge about the teaching and learning processes and about schools as institutions.
  • Be rooted in and reflect the best available research.
  • Contribute to measurable improvement in student achievement.
  • Expect teachers to be intellectually engaged with ideas and resources.
  • Provide sufficient time, support, and resources to enable teachers to master new content and pedagogy and to integrate these into their practice.
  • Be designed by representatives of those who participate in it, in cooperation with experts in the field.
  • Take a variety of forms, including some we have not typically considered.


To obtain a complete copy of the text, contact: American Federation of Teachers, 555 New Jersey Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20001-2079; (202) 879-4400. Ask for item No. 176. Single copies are free; there is a charge of $1 each for five or more.

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