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Classroom Lecture

How Do I Use Tools for Teaching?

A Plan for Professional Development

Part 3

Reducing the Risk of Change

Effective professional development produces personal growth and lasting change. Yet, personal growth is challenging - particularly when it involves changing old and familiar patterns of behavior. It requires continuing effort and support over time. When beginning a program of professional growth and change, it is helpful to view the process through the trainee's eyes.


  • Professional Growth is Intimate and Personal: Most people will not risk change unless someone they know and trust is already succeeding and will help them as they try to master new skills.


  • Change is Risk: You cannot trust some innovation that you have not yet mastered. Old and familiar ways of doing things are safe. The willingness to risk trying something new will rest largely upon a person’s trust in the network of support that accompanies his or her attempts to change.


  • Change is Difficult: Learning any new skill requires effort. It happens neither quickly nor easily. Nor, does it always go right the first time.


  • Change is Disruptive: Things usually get worse before they get better. As old ways of doing things are altered, there is predictable awkwardness and loss of both comfort and confidence.


  • Change Must Survive the Critical Period: If, with help from a support network, a colleague persists in using a new skill, integration and comfort will be achieved at a higher level of functioning. Without adequate support, however, that teacher may well attribute the loss of comfort to the new skill and conclude that “It doesn't work for me.”


To put it simply, training is the easy part of effective professional development, even though it takes more time than we have traditionally given it. The hard part of professional development is follow-through. Follow-through requires organizational change to support personal change.

Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3

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