Why professional development without substantial follow-up is malpractice

Dennis Sparks

If a primary goal of professional development is to affect what teachers believe, understand, and do on a daily basis, then . . . .

Offering “presentations” or “training” without intensive and sustained small-group dialogue, in-classroom coaching, and just-in-time problem solving is educational malpractice.

Put another way, “head learning” abstracted from practice without abundant opportunities for supportive on-the-job feedback and trouble shooting wastes the organization’s resources and squanders teachers’ good will.

Such malpractice is not only an ethical lapse, but is immoral when students’ learning and well being are negatively affected.

Of course, the presence or absence of many other things in classrooms and schools is malpractice.

What would you put on your “malpractice” list?

6 Responses to “Why professional development without substantial follow-up is malpractice”


  1. 1 Lisa Madden November 6, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Sit-and-get Powerpoint presentations on effective instructional practices.

  2. 3 Richard Nelson Online November 14, 2013 at 2:56 am

    I would add corporate online induction packages. I am still not sure what I would do if there was a fire in my classroom* after clicking through the online training.

    (*Slight exaggeration, no students were harmed in the making of this comment)

    • 4 Dennis Sparks November 14, 2013 at 6:43 am

      I agree, Richard. I have also clicked through online “training” and passed “competency tests” without any real understanding of the content or the acquisition of the skills required to apply it.


  1. 1 Teacher Agency: Self-Directed Professional Development | User Generated Education Trackback on November 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm
  2. 2 blog online Trackback on July 7, 2014 at 11:52 pm

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