It is recognized that the context for professional development is crucial for its success. School and district culture has developed a norm for continuous improvement and views staff development as an ongoing, job-embedded examination process. The district culture holds a philosophy that supports inquiry, reflection, and the seeking new knowledge, problem solving, trying new approaches, and assessment of the results. Trust is an important element of the school culture and includes opportunities for the development of a shared purpose.
The instructional leader is critical in becoming an advocate for teachers and professional development. The instructional leader ensures that the professional development efforts are aligned with other initiatives and have the requisite support components. The instructional leader is a participant in the professional development program, assisting with problem solving and taking steps to overcome teachers’ isolation and to nurture collaboration and collegiality. The instructional leaders also hold teachers accountable for improvement. Teachers are recognized for attempts to implement new instructional strategies. This can often be accomplished through release time, funding or additional assistance, and acknowledgement for actions, achievements, and accomplishments.
Another role for the instructional leader is to ensure that professional development programs have adequate resources. This may require revising or reallocating existing budgets and the acquisition of new funds. Teachers must also have adequate time for learning and collaboration. Time reallocation may be accomplished through the use of one or more of the following: expanded staffing, alternative student grouping structures, alternative scheduling, accumulated time, the use of school/university partnerships. To ensure the success of professional development, the allocated time must be sufficient, flexible, and sustained. A long-term commitment to the goals established for professional development should be maintained.
The role of central office support is to provide assistance to schools in the analysis of their data and to aid in the development of improvement priorities. Central office personnel can also provide support as consultants and providers of professional development programs.