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Professional Development
part of the Education Reform Network
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Equity Rationale

Download: Equity.doc

Effective educators know and demonstrate appreciation for all their students. Through their attitudes and behaviors, they establish classroom learning environments that are emotionally and physically safe and they communicate high expectations for academic achievement and quality interpersonal relationships. Professional development related to these issues is particularly important when educators are assigned to levels other than those for which they were prepared (for instance, elementary and high school teachers or administrators assigned to middle-grades schools) and when they are teaching students whose backgrounds are significantly different from their own (for instance, white, middle-class teachers working in schools that primarily serve students of color and/or those from low-income homes).

Teachers' knowledge of their students is an essential ingredient of successful teaching. Staff development helps teachers to understand the general cognitive and social/emotional characteristics of students in order to provide developmentally appropriate curriculum and instruction. It provides strategies for tapping the unique learning strengths of each student. In addition, it helps teachers to use knowledge of their students' interests and backgrounds to assist them in planning meaningful, relevant lessons.

For teachers to act on this knowledge of students, it is important that staff development equip them with ways of providing various types of instruction based on individual differences. Teachers learn to recognize learning strengths and preferences and how to differentiate learning activities within their classrooms. They also learn various ways to assess student progress based on individual differences.

Successful educators convey through various means the value and potential that is inherent in each student. They demonstrate understanding, respect, and appreciation of students' cultures and life experiences through their lessons and daily interaction with students and their caregivers. High quality staff development provides educators with opportunities to understand their own attitudes regarding race, social class, and culture and how their attitudes affect their teaching practices and expectations for student learning and behavior. In addition, teachers learn about the cultural backgrounds of their students and to develop an appreciation of the benefits that diversity provides in their classrooms for both students' academic performance and interpersonal and social development.

Staff development equips all educators with the knowledge and skills to establish safe and orderly learning environments characterized by mutual respect in which academic learning and psycho/social development will occur. It enables teachers to develop classroom management skills that support positive interaction and nurture students' capacity for self-management. It assists teachers and administrators in creating schoolwide practices that convey respect for students, their families, and their cultural backgrounds. Such practices may include school investigations, curriculum units, and other activities that recognize the contributions and traditions of various cultures. These practices also demonstrate sensitivity to caregivers and their students whose primary language is not English and whose work, home life, or cultural traditions makes it difficult for them to interact with the school and teachers in ways most comfortable and familiar to North American educators.

  • Cataloged: Sep-28-2003
  • Country: USA
  • Author/Creator: NSDC

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