Embracing a New Model of Teacher-Led Professional Development

For educators, lifelong learning and development are key to growth and to improving their craft. Just as students must continually strive to learn, grow, and practice new skills, so must teachers.

With the pandemic still affecting travel, in-person gatherings, and training opportunities, teachers across the world have had to get creative with how they approach their own learning and development. In answer to this dilemma, the M’KIS Professional Development (PD) Working Group was born.

Recognizing the incredible wealth of expertise that already exists at our school, the PD Working Group has risen to the challenge in order to provide their colleagues with meaningful opportunities to learn from one another. Made up of 12 faculty members, the group’s main aim is to build on the teaching expertise within our school and to encourage collaboration to strengthen the M’KIS teaching community. The group has prioritized a democratic approach to professional development, soliciting feedback from staff about what opportunities they are most interested in, and matching these needs with the skills of our M’KIS workshop providers.

Over the course of the last several months, the PD Working Group has discussed teacher needs, the benefits of staff-led training, and how to support continued education among faculty and staff.

Before the summer break, the PD Working Group conducted a survey and found that overwhelmingly, staff wanted more training in technology and digital tools. The group agreed that exposing staff to the wealth of Google Suite tools would be an ideal place to start.

When teachers arrived back for the start of the school year in August, the first task was to outline the skills staff were most interested in developing, and finding the right teachers to step in as trainers to provide the workshops. Based on staff feedback, the PD Working Group decided to offer the training school-wide to those interested, including teaching staff, administrative support staff, and as well as ELementary School classroom support staff. All in all, it would mean providing professional development to approximately 100 staff members at M’KIS, which is no easy feat.

Despite a busy season of preparing to welcome students back and the challenges of starting another year of school online, many teachers expressed a willingness to host workshops and take a more active role in providing training to their colleagues. Given how busy the M’KIS staff were at this time, the desire of faculty to work with and upskill their colleagues was positive and inspiring. What was even more promising was that both veteran and new staff were eager to contribute, as well as staff from across both the Elementary and Middle and High School.

The only thing left to do was to match the skills that teachers wanted to develop with what the workshop offerings. With 10 workshop hosts, the challenge was then to get 100 staff members into the right workshops. To foster a truly democratic approach, participants were polled again to gauge their interest in the various training options. Staff were excited to provide their feedback and became even more engaged in the process as the plan for a teacher-led process took shape.

With the first professional development workshops now behind them, many staff members have commented on just how helpful the trainings were. Using their new skills, many have been able to make immediate changes to their teaching practice. Most importantly, the positive energy created from attending this kind of teacher-driven professional development is a boon to our staff and learning community.

Teacher-led professional development promotes teamwork and collaboration, builds trust among colleagues, and strengthens teacher leadership and empowerment. As continuous learning occurs, teachers become more confident in their skills and more reflective in their teaching practice, all of which directly contributes to student learning and well-being.

As the M’KIS Professional Development Working Group looks to the future and developing additional workshops for their colleagues, we are excited to see how this initiative continues to support teacher growth and contributes to a spirit of whole-school development.

Thank you to Nick Cross, Chair of the M’KIS Professional Development Working Group, for contributing to this blog.