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As leaders of their schools, school administrators have many responsibilities to fulfill. Their duties include providing support for not only the students but also the faculty. Professional development is one of the administrator’s lesser-known responsibilities, but it is a critical element of success for faculty. Providing faculty with the time and space for meaningful professional development is necessary for strong stability and continual improvement.

Teachers should reflect on current techniques and standards and consider how to adapt them to better serve the needs of students. In this way, the most effective professional development strategies also improve student outcomes, even though the process begins with administrators and instructors.

Despite a growing understanding of the importance of professional development, creating opportunities for its implementation is not always easy. The day-to-day operations of a school are demanding, and both teachers and administrators are already pressed for time. Therefore, giving school administrators the tools and knowledge to cultivate continued development is crucial.

In the online Education Specialist in Educational Leadership – K-12 Administration track from Mississippi College, educational professionals will learn how to create instructional programs and school culture that facilitate faculty learning and professional development, among other key skills. Graduates will gain an understanding of how to develop an effective framework and a widely shared vision for growth among faculty.

The Importance of Professional Development for Administrators

Just as professional development is important for teachers, it is also imperative for school administrators and leaders: “Momentous responsibilities coupled with unpredictable challenges fuel frequent turnover,” according to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). “That’s why it behooves districts to prioritize ongoing support and development for principals and other school leadership roles.”

In other words, having an enduring, consistent framework and processes for all school activities helps leaders maintain stability, especially in the face of many “unpredictable challenges.” When school leaders and administrators reflect and prioritize their own learning, they can adapt and problem-solve more effectively. They also continually learn new ways to engage their faculty, students and other stakeholders to benefit the entire school community.

Part of these responsibilities includes allocating resources. For instance, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) — a federal education bill — aims to improve student outcomes in a number of ways. One of these is by prioritizing professional development for teachers and administrators in order to improve “quality and effectiveness” and “positively impact” the academic progress of students. ESSA tasks the state and districts with this responsibility. Utilizing these resources and navigating administrative red tape become vital for school administrators.

Best Practices for Development Among Faculty

Sharing the knowledge and spirit for professional development with faculty is the next step in this process. The education blog Edutopia suggests a number of methods to help boost the professional development efforts in their schools.

The importance of continued learning from administrators can also be helpful in this area. School leaders who actively engage in their own development set a good example for faculty and send a message about the value of professional development for everyone.

Embedding themselves in the planning process from the onset is also great practice to assist faculty. Gathering evidence to inform professional development can come in a number of ways, including “through classroom observations, instructional rounds, and feedback from teachers, coaches, and students,” as the article points out. School administrators who engage with these efforts firsthand not only build trust and rapport but also gather information firsthand, which helps them to better develop robust development plans.

Patience is another vital element to this process. Ultimately, as Edutopia writes, professional development aims to “empower teachers to impact student learning.” School leaders and faculty can gather more meaningful information and observations with consistent, school-wide practices and approaches.

Graduates of a postgraduate education degree in educational leadership will be ready to improve school communities through effective professional development strategies. The longer professionals develop and hone these processes, the more effective and relevant these approaches are for the whole school community.

Learn more about Mississippi College’s online Education Specialist in Educational Leadership – K-12 Administration track program.

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