Professional development is critical to the success of your redesign initiative. In Accelerating Opportunity, professional development is viewed as an ongoing process, rather than as discrete, episodic events that may not add up to systems and culture change. The goal of your technical assistance and professional development plan should be to get people to fundamentally rethink how teaching and learning works, not just to layer new strategies and practices onto they are already doing.
Professional development should span at least three levels: on the ground at the point of instruction for staff and support staff; for ABE program administrators and deans of instruction so they can effectively administer the program, support their faculty, ensure high-quality instruction, and identify and mobilize resources; and at the state level to ensure state ABE leadership, CTE leadership, and workforce development leadership are equipped with the skills and competencies to ensure that local staff can meet the initiative’s objectives. Professional development is about convening and sharing data and evidence and doing everything possible to ensure that information and skills are adequately developed at the state and local levels.
Think about your long-term professional development strategy in addition to the professional development needed for getting a program up and running. This includes considering how faculty and staff will get the ongoing support they need as the model evolves, and how you can develop models by which faculty and staff train and support each other. In Washington, for example, the state put together a cadre of expert instructors that could be deployed to provide technical assistance to new instructors and help colleges start up new I-BEST programs.
The National College Transition Network has developed three free, self-paced courses covering team teaching, the navigator role, and administration. These courses are a useful way to augment your professional development offerings.