New research shows that the teaching profession is facing its worst challenges in 50 years, with job satisfaction and other metrics nearing 50-year lows. While there are likely several reasons for burnout and no easy solutions, a recent study on successful professional development strategies offers a promising path forward.
“When teachers get good quality professional learning they tend to stay. They tend to stay more often than teachers that don’t get that,” explains Heather Hill, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
In one math coaching study that Hill worked on a few years ago, she found teachers who received strong professional development were 10% more likely to be teaching math again in the following year than those who did not. It’s a “protective factor,” she explains.
What makes for successful professional learning (PL)?
School districts around the country spend an estimated $18 billion on teacher learning programs every year but caliber and relevance are key, according to Hill. She says some teachers don’t like professional development and consider it a waste of their time. “It’s only when they feel like it’s actually beneficial to them and their practice and their students that they seem to stay.”
In their recent paper, Building Better PL: How to Strengthen Teacher Learning, Hill and co-author John Papay of Brown University draw on research literature and rigorous studies to identify what is most effective for teachers and students. They also provide helpful next steps for future research in each key area of their report.