Principles of Professional Development

The Early Learning Network values are to:

  • Be organized to reflect professional standards and evidence-based
    instructional strategies.
  • Be multi-tiered, of considerable duration, and infused with experiential learning.
  • Enable participants to practice the processes of inquiry, reflection, and data-based decision making.
  • Include effective communication strategies for working with families in all professional development.
  • Include intentional planning for next steps incorporating new knowledge and skills.

Effective professional development strengthens participants’ abilities and dispositions to engage in ongoing inquiry and reflection about their work with children and families and to make decisions about their practice based on data. At the same time, it is relevant to participants’ immediate needs, enabling them to develop solutions to current problems.

It encourages participants to articulate, and demonstrate and apply what they learn, thus increasing their self-esteem and professionalism. In the current social context, effective professional development must increase participants’ commitment and ability to work effectively with families who are diverse in terms of culture, language, religion, socioeconomic status, family structure, and other characteristics.

To accomplish the above goals, the North Carolina Professional Development for Inclusion Steering Committee came up with a list of criteria for effective professional development:

  • be organized to reflect professional standards and evidence-based instructional
  • be multi-tiered and of considerable duration,
  • be infused with experiential learning,
  • feedback,
  • include practical applications and links to specific practices, particularly those that address needs identified by participants,
  • model and enable participants to practice the processes of inquiry, reflection, and data-based decision making,
  • consistently model the instructional practices and interpersonal interactions that are being promoted and taught,
  • include intentional planning for next steps incorporating new knowledge andskills,
  • facilitate examination of personal attitudes and beliefs that affect participants’ ability to work sensitively and effectively with diverse children and their families,
  • infuse explicit, practical applications to participants’ work with diverse children and families, and
  • build on or develop collaborative structures (e.g., professional learning communities, mentoring) to help participants sustain positive changes in their practice.

The professional development system should:

  • provide coordinated, linked training and professional development opportunities that build on each other (e.g., beginning, intermediate, and advanced workshops on a particular topic), and
  • allow participants to accumulate credit for participation in high-quality professional development to strengthen their professional credentials (e.g. CEUs, course credit, degrees, certification, licensure).

Effective professional development for PD providers should reflect all of the general principles of effective professional development described above. In particular, it should:

  • help PD providers update their knowledge and skills related to effective PD approaches, professional standards, evidence-based instructional strategies, and diverse children and families,
  • facilitate examination of personal beliefs and attitudes that can affect the ability to provide effective professional development on working with diverse children and families,
  • develop mentoring and consultation skills,
  • help move the field from the notion of the quick fix to the understanding that real change takes time and commitment, and
  • facilitate cross-sector collaboration to build a professional development system capable of accomplishing the goals described above.