Staff development programs are a necessity. Improved teaching should be an end result of staff development. Too frequently, staff development programs are hierarchical. Thus ideas to improve the curriculum are imposed from far above. From the apex of school organization to the classroom teachers then is emphasized in making changes in curriculum. Change in the curriculum does not necessarily represent reform. If reform is evident in a changed curriculum, students are attaining objectives effectively and developing quality attitudes toward school.
Criteria to Emphasize in Staff Development
To stress quality attitudes, teachers need to have ample input into developing objectives, learning opportunities, as well as appraisal procedures. Any teacher omitted in this process may well develop feelings of being unwanted and lacking worth. Active involvement by all teachers is a key concept to stress in staff development.
Pertaining to key ideas to consider in planning self-directed learning, McNeil(1) wrote:
Achievement motivation. Those persons who are motivated by hope of success have an incentive to learn when the task is not too easy and when there is an expectation of success. Persons motivated by fear of failure, on the other hand, tend to select tasks that are either so easy they cannot fail or so difficult that no embarrassment results when they do.
Attribute theory. Achievement-oriented individuals are more likely to see themselves as a cause of their success.
Children's interests. When children find schoolwork distasteful and yet are driven to engage in more of the distasteful work, they acquire learned helplessness, having no interests related to learning. Freedom to undertake a self-directed study of something that concerns the learner seems to be an important condition for developing channeled effort.
Locus of control. Locus of control is the extent to which persons feel they have control over their own destiny. Internal control is highly correlated with achievement.
Active involvement of all teachers in staff development emphasizes a decision-making model. Each teacher needs to be an active participant rather than a passive being in curriculum improvement. With active participation in decisions made to improve the curriculum, feelings of belonging should be an inherent result. Feelings of being significant and valued are desired by all in school and in society. Teachers individually desire to have respect shown for contributions made. Ridiculing of staff members' ideas in developing the curriculum makes for a lack of positive attitudes within the framework of improved instruction. A low self concept might well follow. Quality improvements in the curriculum do not come about with a lack of feelings of belonging to a cohesive set of teachers.
Within the framework of belonging, teachers need to feel free to be creative. Novel, unique ideas are inherent when teachers in staff development endeavors come forth with creativity in selecting objectives, learning opportunities, and appraisal procedures. Creative thinking environments free teachers from limitations, dogmas, as well as the tried and true in curriculum and instruction. Originality in terms of ideas might well bring out the best in staff development programs. Changes abound in society. With a changing societal arena, modification need to be made in the school curriculum. Society and the school setting are not separate, but integrated entities. Staff development programs then need to incorporate the best of what exists in the societal arena. From what is to what should be in the school curriculum must be emphasized in staff development programs. Creativity as a concept is needed to make this movement from that which is in evidence presently to that which makes for a quality curriculum and truly provides for optimal progress on the part of each student.
Creativeness integrates the self with the activities involved in staff development. …