Professional Development Planning For Your Teaching Staff – A Guide for a New Head of Department
Part of your role as Head of a Subject Department is to develop your staff individually, as a group as well as your department generally. This means you need to create a development plan based on what you and your staff view as necessary and what changes are mandated by legislation, educational authorities or school administration initiatives.
You must also factor in requests from your staff for personal professional development. Near the end of each year, I would meet with every staff member to discuss their professional development desires in the following year. I would make suggestions on what I would like them to consider.
Based on all this research, I planned the professional development for the following year as part of my Annual Operating Plan.
I always kept a reserve of funds for unforeseen opportunities to use for excellent professional development that suddenly became available or for an issue of sudden importance that arose.
Don’t forget to include yourself in the professional development plans. After all, you must be able to guide your staff on any new educational developments.
Keep in mind that the professional development must enhance your department and be also designed to develop each teacher according to their individual needs. Remember that professional development is a continuing and a long term process. Therefore, it is important to have both a short term plan as well as a long term plan for it.
Professional development can be as simple as a senior teacher showing a junior teacher a different way of approaching a lesson or as diverse as sending teachers to an educational conference outside the school.
Wherever possible I would send two teachers to professional development workshops outside the school. I expected that they would prepare a report on the workshop suggesting ideas that could be of value to the rest of the teachers. I would include their report in my next memo.
The other important goal of sending two teachers was to allow them to work together on the important issues that arose at the workshop and compare notes. Two teachers sharing their enthusiasm about a new concept will have a greater impact on the rest of your staff.
When a new syllabus is to be introduced, often the educational authorities will organise workshops to implement the new syllabus. Often, some teachers are wary of change. So the “controversial” issues to be raised about the new syllabus at the workshop might need teachers with open minds to change. So what you will need to do in your department is to carefully select the teachers you send to the first workshop.
It may be just as important for you to attend that first workshop to get a better idea on which teachers would be best sent first to these workshops. As well it is important to keep your staff informed about what is happening at these workshops.
It is also a useful idea to organise workshops at your own school where all your staff can attend. I did this with each new syllabus. Because I was able to hear excellent speaker discussing the new syllabuses, I invited them to present workshops for my staff and other teachers from nearby schools. The speaker would give me a booklet on what would be discussed at the workshop. I had this printed as a record for each attendee. I asked the speaker to include at least one idea or item that the teachers could use in their classroom the very next day.
One last consideration for you is to develop teachers as leaders within your department especially teachers who can take on your role in the event of your being absent from your department. So look for future leaders and see that they are given the necessary professional development to become leaders of the future.