The Importance of Professional Development

By Shannon Sommella

Does your district or state have a master plan for professional development? It’s a simple question, but it comes at a time when districts are caught in a spinning web of policies and financial crises.

The natural tendency in tough times is to develop a bunker mentality, to just wait until the storm passes. But a crisis also presents opportunity, and a strong master plan for staff development can provide the most bang for your buck.

Florida took advantage of this opportunity following the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. The state’s effort resulted in a master plan that allows districts and schools to prepare individualized strategies that are consistent with best practices, while using a systems thinking approach.

The state plan is structured, easy to follow, and can be adapted to districts that are small, large, urban, and rural. The design involves three levels: district, school, and faculty, with each element connected by its relationship to the district’s vision and mission. All levels revolve around enhancing student and organizational performance. 

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