1. In-house Training – Instead of sending a team of teachers out of district for trainings, administrators bring trainers into the district. Doing so, they train 25 teachers for about the cost of eight teachers sent out of district. Administrators can also choose professional development dates that are convenient for the district and they can customize offerings that might otherwise have been presented in a one-size-fits-all fashion.
2. Consortium Building – When in-house training is too pricey, some self-assertive administrators slash costs by creating consortiums with neighboring districts. Some administrators make arrangements where costs are split evenly; others agree to having each district pay per seat occupied.
3. On-going & Systemic Training – Rather than filling professional days with many trainers covering a variety of topics, administrators are turning to data driven decision making, focusing deeply on fewer areas. Administrators then create communities of learners by having presenters make multiple visits across the school year to review and expand upon focal areas with their team of participants.
4. Mentor Coaches – While districts are moving towards on-going, in-house professional development, presenters are increasingly being expected to walk-the-walk. It is not unusual to find presenters moving from classroom to classroom observing, coaching, and even modeling techniques directly with students. One added benefit to this method of professional development is that any day of the school year can become a training day, at little or no disruption to the instructional schedule and with no substitute teacher expenses.
5. On-line Training – Another way administrators avoid substitute teacher expenses and disruptions to the instructional schedule is by offering on-line workshop and college course opportunities. Most of these trainings are not held live, which means that they can be accessed anywhere and at times that are convenient to the participant, such as at home during evenings or weekends.
6. Teaching Academies – Many administrators will agree that expertise can be found from within the ranks of the district staff. Six southern NJ counties have adopted this belief with the creation of Teaching and Learning Academies. These academies are created and governed by teachers, for teachers. Professional development opportunities are offered through quarterly meetings and a wealth of resources are available on the Academy website: http://www.southjerseyacademy.com/.
7. Subcontracting – Perhaps the ultimate professional development commitment comes from districts who subcontract consultants on a full or part-time basis. Districts who cannot afford full-time personnel are using educational agencies to hire reading coaches, ITs, directors and even superintendents of schools. These consultants often come from the ranks of retired administrators and teachers, saving the district and educational agency the cost of benefits.