The recent surge in staff driven professional development is a welcome change from traditional centrally planned models, yet leaders who embrace new approaches are uniquely able to best provide necessary staff training.

School Leadership has a responsibility to provide direction in professional development for many reasons:

  • Staff rarely has authority to manipulate or develop the organizational calendar to plan for professional development
  • Staff are not always aware of required annual compliance training
  • There may be necessary but not immediately desirable professional development for the staff
  • There are some required preparations for any professional development that are best centrally planned
  • Staff do not have the financial approval authority required for contracted professional development

To effectively fulfill this responsibility, leaders need to consider new approaches to the planning, delivery, and format of their organizational professional development:

Decide the specific training for each job function in the organization

Ask your staff what they need.  Ask all of them;  Involve everyone.

In a school system this means teachers, paraprofessionals, maintenance, food service, transportation and any other employee.  Everyone should be solicited for input in their areas.

Leaders do not abdicate authority by involving those affected in decisions, rather they increase belief and buy-in even if they ultimately choose a different choice from their followers recommendations

Leadership can then ensure that mandatory compliance trainings and any mission or strategic goal related professional development is included for each job description.

When you have completed this process, you should have a set of specific requirements for individuals and/or job functions that can then be used as a checklist throughout the year.  This list can also serve to ensure that those who are hired after the initial roll-out of a particular training, or that miss for some other reason,  are made aware of their need to obtain that training at some other time.

Train your staff to present professional development

There will always be some professional development that no one in the organization has the capacity to provide and that must be contracted, but intentionally training and certifying your staff to deliver required professional development has several benefits:

  • Provides a solution for the problem of lack of follow-up and presenter accessibility after the training that occurs in the typical  “drive-by” model
  • Builds capacity in your organization
  • Creates a great platform for recognition of your top performers

If you want your organization to lead then you have to intentionally train leaders and allow them to practice.  Choosing to certify and train your own staff to present professional development to their colleagues will indicate to everyone in your organization the value you place on your own employees.  This approach hastens the implementation of new training because issues of trust, relevancy of training, and future observability of the training in a real world setting are more likely to be mitigated when the trainer is a colleague.

Embrace different presentation formats and structures

Instead of efficiently scheduling all training in  1-6 hour blocks of lecture format, make use of some of the new innovative learning formats.

Not ready to try a new presentation format?  Even traditional training models will be more effective when the staff have been involved in the planning process and their colleagues lead the training.

Other ideas? Connect with me on social media to share other ideas about improving your professional development leadership.