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  What’s Going on in My Child’s School? A Parent’s Guide to Good Schools
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What Parents Should Look For


So what do teachers learn in professional development? What does it mean to your child? How do you know whether your child’s teacher is receiving good professional development or simply wasting valuable classroom time that could be spent in the classroom with your child?

In the past, teachers often focused all their attention on the brightest students in the class and hoped that the slower students would catch up. Good professional development emphasizes giving teachers the tools and expertise they need to help all students achieve at high levels. It requires teachers to take a hard look at what they are doing in the classroom, to examine whether they are successfully challenging all children to their best ability and to adjust their teaching when instruction is not working for students.

For example, teachers are learning to focus more heavily on the learning needs of their students. That’s because more and more research shows that learning needs vary from student to student. One student may need more one-on-one time with a teacher. Another may be a visual learner and still another may learn through hands-on activities. So, teachers have to understand what motivates their students and keep track of it. This requires talking with other teachers, reflecting on what works and what doesn’t in the classroom, and identifying areas for improvement.

How can you tell whether your child’s teacher is receiving good professional development? Here’s a checklist of what to look for:

  • Does the professional development focus on improving student achievement, and is it tied to the school’s overall improvement plan?

  • Does it require your child’s teacher to meet regularly with other teachers and critique
    his or her work in the classroom?

  • How often do teachers meet to polish their skills and learn more about the latest
    teaching techniques?

Parents don’t need an expert to tell them that a good teacher brings out the best in their child. We all know this from personal experience. All of us can name at least one teacher who had a big impact on our lives and on the way we learned.

Some teachers were born with a natural gift to teach. They intuitively know how to help a child struggling in math. They move easily from one child’s learning style to another’s. Many teachers, however, are like the rest of us. Getting better at what we do requires extra effort and help. For teachers, this means participating in professional development that helps push them to a whole new level of teaching. Improving teacher quality through good professional development improves learning for all of our children.

Ten Tips for Parents: get involved in your Child’s school


  • Attend school events and activities.

  • Tutor students after school.

  • Encourage at least one other parent to become a school volunteer.

  • Volunteer at your child’s school at least three times a year.

  • Offer to work as a teacher’s aide in your child’s classroom.

  • Ask the principal if your child’s school has a school improvement plan.

  • Ask questions. Ask more questions.

  • Learn more about how the school is increasing student achievement.

  • Get involved in school meetings for parents and community members that focus on how to strengthen student learning.

  • Help school staff research new and proven learning methods.

  What’s Going on in My Child’s School? A Parent’s Guide to Good Schools
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