Professional Development Plan Example

by Jason Shaw

In today’s world of education, more than ever before, it is important to prepare carefully for the development of quality educators. There is no room for a status quo in terms of career growth with a glut of educators, insufficient budgets, and more diverse demands among student groups. The need for continued professional growth occurs where expectations and performance-driven quality management strategies focus on highly trained, new and creative team members to achieve these objectives. A career development programme will address the needs of those concerned; the students, teachers, and partners, only by proper preparation and creativity.  Research supports that one that is data-driven, constructivist by design, outcomes-oriented, and job-embedded is the strongest professional learning programme. (State of Vermont DOE, 2010)

A successful professional development approach must be standards-based and aligned with carrying forth the school’s overall mission and vision; while at the same time meeting the professional and personal needs of the staff, as well as the students and stakeholders.  It requires reflection on the past with the goal of instituting initiatives to improve the quality indicators that will impact the future.  (Mahaffey, Lind, &Derse)

Professional Development Plan Example

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At the beginning, many factors must be taken into consideration.  The school must do a careful self-assessment comparing data from the student performance indicators, as well as from the performance evaluations of the staff.  Several factors will arise from this need’s assessment: interests, current skill sets, values, challenges, strengths, and limitations.  It will provide an overall health assessment of the school as a whole as well as an individual picture of each staff member. (Educause, 2006)

There are four major areas of development that professional development plans focus on: literacy, numeracy, teaching skills, and student outcomes.  Literacy learning comprises the five areas of reading, writing and spelling, adolescent literacy, and English Language Learners proficiency.  Numeracy focuses on content and processing standards set by the individual states with benchmarks for Common Core State Standards.  The next area is teaching skills which focuses on general teaching skills as well as response to intervention.  The last area is student outcomes, which focuses on dropout prevention, school improvement, and using data.  By taking a broad picture as well as microscopic view of these areas for potential improvement, the school as a whole, as well as each educator, will be able to identify specific needs to focus on for development.  By comparing student performance achievement with outcomes generated by individual educators, as well as educator self-assessments, it is possible to set goals for development that will facilitate overall improvement and satisfaction among staff members. (Professional Development Tools, nd.)

The next step is setting goals. Using the SMART plan is one of the most powerful ways to set targets.  This plan outlines how to write goals that are subjective, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.  Through setting SMART goals, both long-range and short-range, it is easier to evaluate when these goals have been accomplished and it is time to move on to the next area of development.  (Rose, 2006)

SMART goals are specific and strategic; they focus on a certain area and zero in on ways to improve it; they are measurable with indicators showing success.  They take into account for limitations such as budgets and the human condition; therefore they are achievable.  SMART goals are relevant and rigorous as well as encourage innovations to produce the desired results. Finally, they provide the structure of a timeframe so as to keep the improvement process from frustrating itself.  (SMART Goals, 2010-2018) (WEAC, 2011)

Professional development must be committed to equity and excellence.  It must take into account all the essential elements that will be involved in the process; curriculum, assessment, individual educator support, stakeholder support, and funding.  The strength of any professional development program lies in its ability to accurately assess and provide for the needs while remaining flexible and innovative within budgetary guidelines.  (CDE, 2010)

Through collaboration and innovation, the professional development needs of a school can be met in many ways.  Not only are workshops and off-campus opportunities available; there are also many online companies that are fully accredited to offer professional educational development.  Curriculum publishers also offer DVD support to be used with individual departments in the absence of professional development locally.  Another excellent resource is departmental peer collaboration and teaching; the critical support for this comes in allowing time from the school day for this to occur.  There are many innovative ways to support educators as they strive to improve themselves as well as their profession.  (SMU, 2008)

When actually sitting down to write the professional development plan, use the team approach in order to get a well rounded view.  Give a clear statement of purpose; choose wording that is action-oriented, group-focused – as opposed to negative and individual, and iniative driven.  State what your goals are as opposed to what you want to restructure.  Keep the plan short so as to not lose focus, yet be sure to include the critical components.  (Hewitt, 1999-2011)

Through meeting the educators’ needs for professional development, all stakeholders, staff and students are propelled forward in the quality improvement process; it is a win-win situation for all.  It provides a high quality learning community that allows for maximum benefits from the budgeted resources and high satisfaction of all concerned.

Professional development need not break the budget; by being strategically focused on areas of improvement that are data-driven, standards-based, and addressed through avenues of SMART goal setting, the overall expenditure is value priced with regards to future benefits.  When educators feel their needs are being considered as a way to support them in the classrooms, it causes high satisfaction, low turn over rates, and much more continuity for the students.   With educator burnout at a high rate, budget cuts at some of the deepest in history, and student retention rates approaching the 50% level, the only positive and progressive solution to the educational crisis is through professional support and development.  It is a requirement for accreditation that each school prepares and implements a professional development plan as a part of their annual quality improvement program; the success of the school depends on it.

  • California Department of Education.  Creating Effective Proposals. CDE. May 19, 2010.  Web. April 12, 2011.
  • Educause.  Creating a Professional Development Plan., 2006. Pp.7-13, Web. April 12, 2011.
  • Hewitt, Doug.  How to Write a Staff Development Plan.  eHowMoney. Demand Media Inc.  1999-2011.  Web. April 12, 2011.
  • Mahaffey, Deborah. Lind, Kathryn. Deese, Laurie.  Professional Development: Educator Toolkit. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, October 2005, Bulletin No. 6002,. pp 9-11 Web. April 12, 2011.
  • Professional Development Tools. NA. nd. Web. April 12, 2011.
  • Rose, Joni. Achieving Professional SMART Goals.  Suite101.c0m. October 14, 2006.  Web. April 12, 2011.
  • Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.  Professional Development Initiatives.  SMU, 2008.  Web.  April 12, 2011.
  • SMART Goals. NA. Smart Goal Setting. 2010-2018.  Web. April 12,2011.
  • State of Vermont Department of Education.  Professional Development. Updated 3/18/2010. Web. April 12, 2011.
  • Wisconsin Education Association Council.  Section 4: Professional Development Plan. WEAC. 2011.  Web. April 12, 2011.


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