Teachers across the country are trying out pedagogical strategies they’ve never tried and using existing strategies in new circumstances. The teachers and administrators we surveyed said they urgently needed professional development in multiple areas: technology, engagement strategies, effectively supporting English learners, providing trauma-informed instruction, providing social-emotional learning, supporting students with disparate learning needs, and instruction and self-development on anti-racism, anti-bias, and cultural relevance and responsiveness.
The challenge for districts and schools is to find ways to prioritize those needs using these guiding principles:
- Use continuous improvement strategies.
- Provide balance, voice, and choice.
- Create a community of adult learners.
- Provide time for practice.
Principals and teachers need added support to make sure teaching and learning are effective for all students, but those learning opportunities must be highly focused and meet some of the immediate needs that educators are directly feeling through their experiences with students. A collaborative approach to professional development is imperative. It will allow educators to build on what they have learned in recent months as they have adapted to online instruction, give them opportunities to learn from and with one another about what does and doesn’t work for their students, and help them hold one another accountable for being intentional in their approach to the most marginalized students in our system—Black, Latinx, and low-income students.
Professional development that supports key equity areas will include topics such as:
- Anti-racism, which can help educators can identify, examine, and disrupt systems that perpetuate racism
- Anti-bias, which can help educators recognize and address their own biases
- Cultural relevance and responsiveness, which can help administrators and educators find ways to engage all students and make teaching and learning relatable and meaningful