Source: eJewish Philanthropy
Continued professional development (CPD) is defined broadly as learning opportunities with well-defined sequence and learning objectives. These should be designed to enhance a leader’s professional competence, knowledge and skills. CPD may include multi-session programs, such as certificate programs and leadership institutes, as well as professional workshops. Effective continued professional development is linked to personal development goals and school improvement initiatives – it is not an end in itself but a means to instructional improvement.
According to the research brief, Leaders as Learners: The Case for Continued Professional Development prepared by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) on behalf of The Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE) with funding from The AVI CHAI Foundation and The Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation – the participation of day school leaders in continued professional development improves teachers’ instructional practices. Researchers from AIR asked day school teachers about the frequency at which they:
- Teach Jewish values
- Make connections between general and Jewish studies
- Embed Jewish or Hebrew terminology into lessons and conversations
- Discuss current events affecting the Jewish community or the Jewish world
- Talk to students about their questions related to their Jewish identity
- Encourage students to participate in the broader local Jewish community
Data showed that the more the head of schools learned within the last five years on these or related topics, the more likely those ideas ended up in the classroom. This is important for the Jewish mission of the school, but it applies to any aspect of any school life.
The findings of the AIR study add to a growing body of research suggesting that school leaders are able to provide leadership to improve teaching and learning only if they themselves receive this relevant training. Lack of participation in continued professional development is associated with less feedback and guidance to staff, regardless of the strength of leaders’ background.
As the visionary leader, the lead teacher, and the head cheerleader, a community looks to its Head of School for guidance, support, energy, enthusiasm and knowledge. These responsibilities provide ample reasons for focusing on in-service days that also include the school staff in professional development. If a Head of School’s job is to point the direction of the school – not to dig out from a pile of emails – and to work on the school while others work in it, then she or he must be a “learner in chief” as much as anything else.
Read more at eJewish Philanthropy.