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Professional development is the key ingredient in the recipe for every educator’s success. Support your teachers and staff to expand their horizons, and your program will improve too. You’ll also attract more talent since teachers understand the long-term value of quality professional development. 

No matter whom your program serves or what experiences your staff members bring to the table, these three strategies can help you build lasting professional development that fulfills the needs of your program and your community. 

1. Support staff to thrive. 


Professional development begins with building the sort of positive environment in which staff members feel safe and valued. Modeling 21st-century learning—and life skills in general—requires a workplace that is just, where a growth-mindset and social awareness are valued. Here are ways to ensure teachers have the opportunity to learn and excel in your program: 

  • Prioritize accountability and restorative practice. Encourage teachers to be responsive to and responsible for one another and their students. Integrating restorative practices into your program provides ample opportunities to practice social and emotional learning skills. 

  • Offer direct, compassionate feedback. Directness is kindness. Staff need clear and specific feedback—both positive and constructive—to learn and grow. Provide ongoing, real-time professional development opportunities that include both praise and constructive criticism. 

  • Give consistent feedback. Staff should be able to count on regular reviews, so they can monitor their progress and performance. 

  • Provide support for students. Teachers can’t do it all. Built-in support for students helps teachers prioritize education and encourages them to build a program that values the whole student—not just their grades or achievements. 

  • Listen to teacher feedback. Teamwork makes the dream work for effective programs, so keep your ears open and engaged. Teachers can help you build a stronger, more effective program, so solicit feedback and listen to what they have to say. 

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2. Build strong professional development.


Every exceptional professional development program has at least three characteristics: 

  1. It offers consistent, relevant training. 

  2. It is self-paced so that teachers and staff can fit it into their lives. 

  3. It offers proof of accomplishments, so staff can highlight their skills and achievements. 

For professional development that packs the most powerful punch, begin with an onboarding component that gives details on the program, its core values, staff expectations, and communication norms. This can help educators get acclimated quickly. 

As part of your program, be sure to offer education on: 

  • Your program’s internal tools and how to use them effectively 

  • Managing participants and their information

  • Internal data reporting standards

  • Effective communication with families and parents 

  • Policies and procedures of the program 

  • Program goals for students, staff, and administrators 

  • Any relevant program history 

  • The wider needs of the community the program serves, and whether the program is addressing these 

Your staff must have clear guidance about the goals of your program. Be specific by highlighting the 21st-century learning skills you are teaching. 

3. Practice makes perfect.

A growth mindset isn’t just for your students. It also encourages your educators to keep learning and striving. Teachers, like everyone, need space to practice and grace to learn from their mistakes. To amplify the value of your professional development, be sure to offer the following practice opportunities: 

  • In-service days: Consider putting aside time prior to the start of your program to bring staff in for training and to get to know one another. For example, you might do two Saturday in-services prior to the program start to ensure everyone is comfortable with one another and the program.

  • Mentorship: Some of the most important skills are difficult to teach in a classroom. Offer teachers the chance to learn from the best with formal mentorship opportunities. 

  • Clear staff policies: Clear policies remove uncertainty about how to manage students, staff challenges, and other conundrums. Establish specific policies that offer meaningful guidance to your team. 

  • Weekly meetings: Feedback and professional development are much easier when you integrate them into your weekly schedule. Plan weekly meetings so everyone can connect, discuss the challenges of the week, and get the feedback and professional development they deserve. 

  • Modeling: Teachers won’t learn skills they can’t practice daily. Make sure whatever you hope teachers teach students is also a part of your interactions with teachers. For example, where social and emotional skills are central, ensure a professional environment that models and prioritizes strong social skills and emotional intelligence. 

BellXcel prioritizes professional development, providing resources to help you support your team so that they can grow as individuals and a team. We offer on-demand courses and webinars and in-person and virtual training with field experts. This empowers you to improve your program by supporting educators to sharpen their own skills. Good educators want to become even better;, so our professional development tools can differentiate your program from others, helping you attract the very best staff. 


Professional development is critical to teachers’ success—and to your program. Take a quick product tour to learn more about how BellXcel makes it easy.

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