Training Teachers: Professional Development Strategies for Administrators
Many administrators are also non dual teachers. Still, instructing others to be effective educators requires a different set of skills from teaching classes yourself. And yet, as another session approaches, administrators face the task of training a new group of teachers. Below are six tips you can use to effectively train your staff.
SET REALISTIC GOALS. To avoid rearing teachers who know a little of everything but a lot of nothing, focus your training. Do this by prioritizing the most important practices–the skills staff must master to increase student success. File away less imperative skills to be tackled later.
PLACE STAFF STRATEGICALLY IN SESSIONS. After creating your menu of high-priority training items, survey staff to get an understanding of their experience. Next, place staff to capitalize on their strengths and support them in areas of growth. For example, your fifth-year ESL teacher might lead the session on working with international students. Schedule your third-year Computer Technology teacher to attend this session. Conversely, Mr. Tech might lead a training titled “Using Social Media in the Classroom” attended by Ms. ESL.
MAINTAIN A “WE-CAN-FIX-THIS” MINDSET. Remember, the classroom is the laboratory in which teachers practice skills from training. Mistakes are bound to occur. When a teacher fumbles, assure him that this is a normal part of his development as a teaching professional–hence, the term professional development. Next, review the situation and coach the teacher on ways to fix the problem. Always remember to provide options for handling things differently in future situations.
JUGGLE ONLY THREE BALLS. Expect each educator to work towards mastery of three goals: 1) the goal he sets for himself; 2) the goal you set for him; 3) and the goal common to all teachers in the program. For example, a teacher might set a goal of using coded materials in class. You might set a second goal for him to use more cooperative learning groups. Finally, as a program, all teachers might be implementing a flipped classroom model. You and he will keep these three balls (coded materials, cooperative learning, and flipped classroom) in the air during the session.
COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY. Effective communication is honest, direct, and open-ended. This type of communication offers teachers a wide range of responses thus ensuring you get the information you need to aid the teacher in his success. Here are three basic conversations starters you can use: 1) Describe your most successful moment in the classroom thus far and what made it successful; 2) Describe one moment of difficulty and detail what made this situation difficult; 3) Talk about the type of support that would be most helpful to you and tell me why it would be helpful.
BE CLEAR ABOUT DEAL BREAKERS. Outline the rules and be explicit about the types of behavior that are unacceptable for staff. If a teacher transgresses rules–whether major or minor–address the situation with the same “we-can-fix-it” mindset. Conference with all involved to gain a well-rounded perspective on the situation. As you decide on the appropriate response, frame all matters as steps in the professional development of the staff.
TO AVOID DOUBT, TALK IT OUT. Communicate frequently with teachers to assess progress, revise goals, and triage problems. Some ways to do this include class visits, email exchanges, discussions of notes from class observations, weekly one-on-one conferences, and monthly team meetings. Consider creating Facebook, Linked In, or Twitter groups so that teachers can exchange ideas and resources with you and with other colleagues.
As supervisors, we are charged with the task of molding teachers to the culture of our program. In doing so, we must remember that teacher training is an on-going process. Keep this in the forefront of your mind as you use the tips above to create, and lead your staff through, your professional development sessions.