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Professional Development Considerations for School Administrators

School administrators fulfill many responsibilities as institutional leaders. They support the students, faculty and staff. Professional development is one of an administrator’s lesser-known responsibilities but is a critical element of faculty success. Providing faculty with the time and space for meaningful professional development is necessary for stability and continual improvement.

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

Despite a growing understanding of the importance of professional development, creating opportunities for its implementation remains challenging. A school’s day-to-day operations are demanding, and both teachers and administrators are often pressed for time. Therefore, giving school administrators the tools and knowledge to cultivate continued development is crucial.

In the online Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Educational Administration — Superintendent/District Administrator program from the University of Wisconsin-Superior (UW-Superior), educational professionals learn to create instructional programs and school culture that facilitate faculty learning and professional development, among other key skills. Graduates will understand how to develop an effective framework and a widely shared vision for growth among faculty.

The Importance of Professional Development for Administrators

While professional development is important for teachers, it is equally 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, consistent frameworks and processes for school activities help 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 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 various ways. One method involves prioritizing professional development for teachers and administrators to improve “quality and effectiveness” and “positively impact” students’ academic progress. ESSA tasks the states 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. Education resource Edutopia suggests methods to help boost professional development efforts in their schools.

When administrators see the value of continued learning, it can bolster in the effort schoolwide. School leaders who actively engage in their own development set an example for faculty and send a message about the importance of professional development for everyone.

Embedding themselves in the planning process from the onset is a great practice for faculty members. 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 Edutopia article points out. School administrators who engage with these efforts firsthand not only build trust and rapport but also gather information, which helps them to better develop robust development plans.

Patience is another vital element in this process. Edutopia claims 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.

Learn to Serve the School Community With the University of Wisconsin-Superior

Through courses emphasizing professional development, such as Professional Ethics for School Administrators, graduates of UW-Superior’s online Ed.S. in Educational Administration – Superintendent/District Administrator program possess skills and strategies to improve school communities. The longer professionals develop and hone these processes, the more effective and relevant they will be for the whole school community.

Learn more about UW-Superior’s online Education Specialist in Educational Administration — Superintendent/District Administrator program.

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