6 predictions I made about “staff development” in 1990: How have they stood the test of time?

Dennis Sparks

In 1990 I boldly made six predictions for the future of “staff development,” and even more boldly, and perhaps foolishly, published them in The Developer, which at that time was the newsletter of the National Staff Development Council (now Learning Forward).

Here is what I predicted:

1. Staff developers will be highly-regarded planners and facilitators as well as trainers and coordinators. 

2. Staff development in the 1990s will be results oriented. 

3. A deepening understanding of the interrelatedness of all aspects of school improvement will mean the phasing out of instruction, curriculum, and staff development departments as we now know them.

4. The responsibility for staff development will be spread among all school leaders rather than viewed as the exclusive domain of a small of people in central office. 

5. Staff development will play its part in preparing teachers and administrators to help students live in a more diverse world. 

6. Because change will be a constant, staff developers will be adept at helping teachers and administrators deal with both the affective and cognitive aspects of change. 

I concluded by saying: “Staff development (or whatever it may be called) must be at the forefront of education’s efforts to prepare all this nation’s youth for life in the twenty-first century. That means that individuals who believe that staff development must play a central role in improvement efforts will need to make their voices heard as important decisions are made about reform in their schools.”

From your perspective, how have my predictions stood the test of time? What did I get right, and where did I miss the mark?

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