Professional development is an important part of making sure that your teachers are well suited for success in the classroom. An integral part of teacher professional development is making sure that they are being educated in a manner that improves their practice and supports students.
One-off seminars and training courses are useful, but they cannot serve as a substitute for critical teacher reflection about their success and failures in the classroom. To that end, we put together this list of 21 important questions that you should be asking your teachers before the start of the next school year.
What is the Purpose of Professional Development for Teachers?
Education is a continual process that never truly stops. Even after earning a teaching degree, teachers can always be improving their skills to keep up with the changing landscape of teaching and instruction. From an administrator standpoint, it is important for teachers to continue with professional development to facilitate positive outcomes for both students and other faculty.
Professional development involves building teaching strategies, determining educator priorities, and the application of aggregate data to improve learning outcomes. Teachers should be expected to make a continual effort to improve their skills to meet national and state-mandated requirements for educators.
21 Professional Development Questions for Teachers
Curriculum and Instruction Questions
Curriculum and instruction are the bread and butter of teaching. These questions are meant to get teachers to reflect on their teaching strategies and the quality of lessons they are providing. Primary among these concerns is how teaching strategies contribute to student outcomes, and what can be done to improve those outcomes.
- What evidence is there that students are learning?
- Specifically, are students capable of demonstrating mastery of knowledge?
- What strategies are used during teaching?\
- Do teachers use primarily lecture-style methods or do they also integrate various teaching modalities, such as group projects, assessments, classroom discussions, etc.?
- How do students benefit from this particular activity?
- In which way are teaching methods challenging students?
- Do teaching methods make students critically think about materials or integrate the material into other areas?
- Do assignments and material reflect learning or just rote memorization?
- Do student outcomes reflect a genuine understanding of the material?
- What is the purpose of the chosen lessons and assignments? Do they build off each other?
- Do lessons logically flow into one another and incorporate an understanding of previously-covered materials or are they independently chosen and administered?
- If any students are having challenges, then why?
- What elements of teaching and instruction might prevent students from fully grasping the material?
- How is lesson pre-planning structured?
- Are lesson plans structured according to difficulty and integration of material, or are they structured in terms of concepts and application?
- Do lessons have a practical import for students?
- Are students encouraged to find ways to integrate lesson points with tangible projects and goals? How can teachers better show students the practical importance of the things that they are learning?
Classroom & Culture Questions
Classroom culture is an integral part of teaching success. Without the right kind of learning atmosphere, students may not be receiving the optimal educational experience. Classroom culture involves more than just how teachers interact with students, but also how students interact with the material itself and how they are encouraged to integrate the materials they are learning into practice.
- What is the most effective demeanor with students to facilitate learning?
- Are students excited to learn or not? If not, why?
- What are effective methods to get students excited about learning?
- Are students active participants in the classroom or passive observers?
- Are students called upon to demonstrate their knowledge, and are they given sufficient opportunity to work with other students to facilitate understanding?
- What relationships help or hinder student’s ability to learn?
- Are students encouraged to ask questions during classroom sessions?
- Are students poised to think critically about material and connect lessons with other questions?
- Do teachers create an exciting atmosphere that is conducive to learning?
- If not, how can they improve student enthusiasm, whether through teaching method or general classroom atmosphere?
- Which parts of the classroom culture could be improved?
- Are there parts of classroom culture that are a detriment to learning and instruction?
- How can student learning be further improved in the classroom?
- What barriers exist that may prevent students from learning to their fullest potential?
Lastly are issues related to professional relationships. Teaching is not a solitary endeavor and is best approached within a community of educators that collaborate and support each other. These kinds of questions are meant to get teachers thinking about the kind and quality of their relationships with other educators and administrators.
- Which areas of professional conduct could be improved?
- Do teachers feel a need to improve their professional relations with other instructors?
- Do relationships with other teachers improve collaboration?
- Do teachers reach out to other instructors with the goal of improving their own instruction and classroom demeanors?
- What are the barriers to improving professional relationships?
- What teaching development opportunities are available, both internally and externally?
- Do teachers feel as if they are encouraged to seek out and take advantage of these opportunities? If not, why?
Teachers cannot be expected to only integrate new information into their teaching strategies. They must also be given an impetus for critical self-reflection and the adaptation of new teaching skills. To that end, professional development is about equipping teachers with the skills necessary to adapt and succeed in the changing modern educational environment.
The right kind of professional development can make all the difference in meeting desired student outcomes and career advancement for your teachers. By asking teachers these kinds of questions, administrators can ensure that teachers can form a self-improvement strategy to further their professional lives.
No matter how long someone has been teaching, there is always room for improvement. In today’s fast-paced, changing educational landscape, it is important that teachers have the wherewithal to critically assess their own performance and professional development.