Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Education Opinion

Answers to Common PD Questions

By Learning Forward — January 19, 2011 2 min read

A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in an Ed Week live chat. In preparation, I decided to do some advance planning, anticipating some of the questions and preparing responses. You can access the entire chat transcript here, but I wanted to post just a few of the questions that I’m frequently asked. These answers may be a little short - but I hope they get some conversation going.

Q: Why do school systems still rely on one-shot workshops?
A. One-day workshops can be useful in providing foundational knowledge and skills. The problem is when districts either 1) use these workshops to define their PD approach; or 2) hold teachers accountable for implementing what is introduced in a one-shot workshop providing no support for implementation.

Q: What types of professional development have the greatest impact on teachers?

A: This might seem like a simple question, but it isn’t. The goals of the professional development are what matters. Professional development that impacts teaching and learning occurs over a sustained period of time, includes developing knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors, and provides intensive support for implementation within the classroom. This form of support includes coaching, peer observation and feedback, principal support for creating conditions for changing practice, and time for collaboration and reflection to assess the effectiveness of the new learning on teaching practices and student learning.

Q: There is an impression that high-quality PD involves having teachers working on issues for a significant length of time, with opportunities to revisit material, etc. How do you get school systems to commit time and resources over an extended period of time?
A: First, examine time that currently exists within the schedule that includes faculty meetings, planning time, professional development time, etc. Always share information on the impact of your investments. Providing information about how other high-performing countries use workday time is one way to provide information to districts and policy makers about the importance of time.
Our book, Finding Time for Professional Learning, is another valuable resource.

Q: How do you evaluate professional development?
A: First, ensure you have something worth measuring. Second, get clear on the measurable results you are seeking. Third, choose an appropriate design for evaluating. There are a number of resources on our web site to help you in this area.

If you’ve got a question about professional learning, we’d love to hear from you.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

The opinions expressed in Learning Forward’s PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
The 4 Biggest Challenges of MTSS During Remote Learning: How Districts Are Adapting
Leaders share ways they have overcome the biggest obstacles of adapting a MTSS or RTI framework in a hybrid or remote learning environment.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Student Well-Being Online Summit Keeping Students and Teachers Motivated and Engaged
Join experts to learn how to address teacher morale, identify students with low engagement, and share what is working in remote learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Superintendent, Dublin Unified School District
Dublin, California (US)
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
Superintendent, Dublin Unified School District
Dublin, California (US)
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
Larkspur, California
Tamalpais Union High School District
Human Resources Manager
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read