The definition of professional development varies in school districts and educators agree that the term is ever changing and involves the use of technology. Some educators have said that the term has an operational definition. In the article, key design factors in durable instructional technology professional development, author John Wells offers the following definition for educators within the context of the technological age:Professional developmentÃ¢ÂÂ¦goes beyond the term training with its implications of learning skills, and encompasses a definition that includes formal and informal means of helping teachers not only learn new skills, but also develop new insights into pedagogy and their own practices, and explore new or advanced understandings of content and resources. [This] definition of professional development includes support for teachers as they encounter the challenges that come with putting into practice their evolving understanding about the use of technology to support inquiry-based learning (p.2).
Professional development may encompass various characteristics such as goals and outcomes aligned to the districts, relevant topics in trainings, opportunities for staff collaboration, development maintained by an on-site coordinator, high quality and professional training and evaluations to determine effectiveness of program.
James Polk, author of traits of effective teachers, states, "the need for a strong professional development program is well established in research" (p.2). Mr. Polk (2006) cites a recent study of factors contributing to three aspects of the teaching process that, "teachers ranked professional development in the top third of importance on each aspect" (p. 2).
In analyzing the professional development plan of my school district, Richland County School District One, I noticed several issues that were identified by Mr. Polk. Mr. Polk outlined several problems associated with the traditional in-service programs that are deemed ineffective. Mr. Polk (2006) states that:assumptions, such as periodic in-service being sufficient to develop new teaching methods...