The professional development of teachers is an integral part of the delivery of quality teaching. Especially important is the development of knowledge, skills, and competencies for the provision of education in today’s complex context. Students have educational needs, just as teachers have needs for professional development. The needs assessment for selecting appropriate training programs should be based on considering teachers’ current skills and their interests in developing as professionals. This plan proposes a methodology for collecting and analyzing data to form the most effective recommendations for professional development programs.
Needs Assessment Rationale
The professional development of teachers includes the development of various skills and competencies, which together lead to an improvement in the quality and effectiveness of education. Depending on the focus, professional development needs can fall into four main groups: instructional, scientific-field, personal, and organizational (Yenen & Yöntem, 2020). Needs assessment is necessary to identify the area where the teacher could benefit the most from professional development practice. Kennedy (2016) underlines that existing professional development programs are extremely diverse, requiring the consultant to accurately determine the needs of the current educational system and teachers to select the most effective program. In particular, within the framework of the need assessment, it is necessary to identify a specific area of development and specific skills and competencies.
The purpose of assessment is to identify existing gaps that teachers can fill to improve the quality of the educational profession. Needs in the professional development of teachers describe “what teachers know, what they need to know (knowledge), and what they should be able to do (practice)” (Widodo, 2018, p. 2). The U.S. The Department of Education offers a framework for continuous improvement that includes needs identification, evidence-based intervention, implementation plan, implementation process, and reflection (Cuiccio & Husby-Slater, 2018). Thus, the need assessment is the basis for the process of continuous development of teachers, as well as the potential improvement of the educational structure.
Needs Assessment Plan
For an effective needs assessment process, it is important to identify key areas for the potential development of teacher skills and competencies. In particular, it is important to identify not only the existing gaps but also the current skills and knowledge of teachers, their role in the educational institution, the goals of the school district, and educational standards (Pasha et al., 2019). It is also important to evaluate the existing options for professional development and their perception by teachers to identify areas of potential improvement. The needs assessment plan includes collecting relevant data, its analysis and interpretation, and selecting the most appropriate programs to address the identified needs based on the information obtained.
Data Collection Process
Data collection will be conducted using surveys and self-assessment tools. In addition, interviews should be conducted with the school principal and administrative staff to identify the goals of the educational institution and the school district. For a better understanding of the heart of the problem, the most effective data sources are teacher surveys. This data collection tool will identify key areas of teachers’ current professional development and vectors for their potential growth. It is also important that this data source will allow us to consider the current situation with the educational process in the institution and identify structural areas for improvement.
To conduct a needs assessment, it is necessary to conduct surveys, interviews, and self-assessments of teachers for whom a professional development plan is being developed. The interview should include questions that would reveal the current skills of teachers and their development needs. The following are interview questions that meet the requirements of the current plan:
- Describe your role in an educational institution.
- What levels are you currently teaching?
- What is the total number of years of teaching experience you have?
- How long have you been working at your current educational institution?
- What subjects do you teach?
- Do you work with student populations such as English language learners, gifted students, or students with special needs? (In the case of a positive answer, it is necessary to ask the teacher in more detail about the current experience of working with special populations of students and ask to describe how competent the teacher considers himselfherself in this area).
- Have you participated in any professional development programs offered by an educational institution? (In the case of a positive answer, it is necessary to interview the teacher about what programs he/she attended, whether they were useful and what weaknesses can be identified in them).
- What professional skills and competencies would you like to develop?
This interview with teachers will allow the consultant to identify general areas of professional development and identify which programs might be useful initially. After the interview, teachers need to complete a survey, within which it will be possible to identify areas of professional development in more detail and accurately. Below is a list of potential questions that can help guide professional development assessment:
In what areas would you be most interested in getting professional training?
- Promoting equitable education
- Classroom management
- Curriculum development and lesson planning
- Parent engagement and communication
- Special student populations support
- Subject-specific programs
- Formative assessment development
- Other areas
As part of the assessment of areas for development, it is important to complement the survey with the identification of specific skills and competencies from each area that would be of interest to the teacher. In particular, it is necessary to develop separate knowledge and competency sheets for each area in order to identify the narrower focus of potential training. This approach will allow the consultant to select more personalized programs and better identify gaps in teaching competencies.
What format of professional training seems most effective to you?
- Modeling of classroom lessons
- Colleagues observation and feedback
- Workshops and conferences
- Mentoring by more experienced teachers
- Observing colleagues
- Online videos on demand
- Online examples of lessons plans
- Online training sessions
- Self-guided development
- Teacher collaborationprofessional learning communities
As part of data collection, the results of interviews and surveys will identify professional development needs and the most appropriate modes of its delivery. When analyzing data, it is necessary to take into account not only this information but also consider student outcomes, on the basis of which decisions about a professional development program can be made (McElearney et al., 2018). It is important for the consultant to consider students’ performance when working with teachers and to interview them about existing gaps in curricula and lesson development. It is also critical to be guided by the school district’s existing goals when choosing the focus of development programs.
As part of data analysis to form recommendations, it is necessary to identify teachers’ general and individual needs. The results of interviews and surveys can be the most valuable sources of information for identifying areas of professional development. It is also important to pay special attention to the choice of training format, which is important for the most effective development. A key aspect of the review is the need for consultation with the school principal and school district representatives. For program selection, it is important to evaluate the needs and feasibility of the selected interventions, which is important for making final decisions.
Needs assessment is the main tool for collecting and analyzing relevant data on required professional development programs for teachers. As part of this process, the consultant needs to pay attention to individual and organizational needs. The development of professional development programs must be consistent with the school district’s commitment to an overall improvement in the quality of education. A critical aspect is also taking into account students’ educational needs and performance. When developing professional development programs, it is also necessary to target problems in academic performance and factors that do not correspond to the needs of students. In general, the presented plan allows us to assess both the current situation with the directions of development of the educational process and the individual prospects for the professional growth of teachers. The next stage is the development of the necessary interventions based on the data obtained and their implementation, as well as an assessment of the effectiveness of the measures taken.
Cuiccio, C., & Husby-Slater, M. (2018). Needs assessment guidebook: Supporting the development of district and school needs assessments. Web.
Kennedy, M. M. (2016). How does professional development improve teaching? Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 945-980. Web.
McElearney, A., Murphy, C., & Radcliffe, D. (2018). Identifying teacher needs and preferences in accessing professional learning and support. Professional Development in Education, 45(3), 433-455. Web.
Pasha, A., Smith, Y. L., & Jeeva, S. (2019). Teacher’s in-service professional development needs assessmnet – The Pakistani context. Journal of South Asian Studies, 7(1), 1-8. Web.
Widodo, H. P. (2018). Needs assessment in professional development (PD). In J. I. Liontas (ed.), The TESOL encyclopedia of English language teaching (pp. 1-7). Wiley. Web.
Yenen, E. T., & Yöntem, M. K. (2020). Teachers’ professional development needs: A Q method analysis. Discourse and Communication for Sustainable Education, 11(2), 159-176. Web.