I’ve visited, spoken to, or emailed with hundreds of school districts around the world. What always strikes me is how vastly different districts are. One of the key differences is in how folks approach professional development.
I’d like to share how my boss shaped leaders in our district.
Rather than spending our budget hiring experts to fly out and speak to the staff, my director grew her own leaders. She identified people with potential. She noted who was excelling at specific techniques. And then, during our meetings, she had those people present.
She created her own experts. And it worked!
An unusual number of folks in our program went on to bigger things. Have you stumbled onto Envision Gifted at some point? We worked in the same gifted program! Another colleague went on to run international schools. She just opened a new school in Thailand! Several people went on to run other gifted programs. Some became principals. Some are even higher up in the district now. And, of course, many stayed in their classroom and became even better teachers. I learned most of what I know by hearing from my colleagues.
So this is my simple advice: pour your resources into your most promising teachers. Give them the spotlight. Let them explain their techniques. Allow them to blossom. Too many folks spend their money trying to make their, um, below-average teachers better. No no. It’s far better to invest in your top folks.
As a leader, you don’t need to hire random experts to fly in and do a one-day training. You don’t need to get up and try to fake your way through a presentation about something you’re not very familiar with. Let your best teachers speak from experience.