This blog comes courtesy of a recent black-out of technology at my office. No internet, no technology. Just the rather daunting stack of journals that I have yet to read, so for that, I am eternally thankful for the storm!
In my rather large stack of Educational Researcher journals, I found an awesome resource by Laura Desimone (Educational Researcher 38(3): 181-199, 2009) that highlights several critical features of successful professional development:
1) Focus on content knowledge
2) Active learning by participants (e.g., observation, interactive feedback, participant-led discussions) with limited lectures
3) Coherence of knowlege with teacher beliefs
4) Duration of at least 20+ hours per semester
5) Collective participation to achieve a critical mass from the same department, grade, school, or district.
Dr. Desimone has a focus on policy to increase teacher effectiveness — http://www.gse.upenn.edu/faculty/desimone — her work is definitely a great resource!
Of course, I have reduced a thoughtful article to five points, but they are very much the core of what, as an evaluator, I can work with my clients to incorporate into their programs, timelines, and logic models to inhance the impact and sustainability of their initiatives.
What has been your experience with these elements? In my work, I can see that some of these are apparent and prescribed by federal program guidelines (like a focus on content), while others are left much more to the design of the local program. What is nice about these areas is that they do not complicate an already rich program narrative — rather they provide the needed scaffolding to plan for the implementation, support, and recruitment decisions that are key to any management plan. What have your experiences been?