NAfME’s Professional Development eKit: A Blueprint for Alabama Music Educators

Edward Ted C. Hoffman, III, University of Montevallo Becky Halliday, University of Montevallo Alden H. Snell, II, Eastman School of Music Lisa M. Gruenhagen, Bowling Green State University

Music teacher professional development is critical to improving instruction and increasing teacher retention. To disseminate elements of effective professional development, members of NAfME’s Society for Music Teacher Education “Professional Development for Experienced Teachers” and “Professional Development for Beginning Teachers” areas for Strategic Planning and Action created a Professional Development eKit, available at development/professional-development-ekit/. In Figure 1, we share a visual of the eKit you can share with fellow teachers, administrators, and professional development provid

The Professional Development eKit is based on seven fundamental principles of professional development. We share each principle, accompanied by a brief description. We then offer suggestions for aligning these principles with existing professional development opportunities in the State of Alabama.

Effective Professional Development…

Is musical. Music teacher professional development should be content and context specific, providing teachers opportunities to improve their own musicianship while learning ways to improve their students’ musicianship. Teachers with an instrumental music background may require support when asked to teach general music or a music technology course. Similarly, a change in grade levels taught could necessitate a refresher in skills and techniques for teaching different age groups.

Is not “one size fits all”—it differentiates between needs of beginning and experienced teachers. Effective mentoring is important for beginning teachers. Their needs are unique depending on context of their new position and their teacher preparation experiences. Early- to mid-career teachers need support in making changes to improve student achievement; one way to do this is to study teaching practice. Veteran teachers require ways to organize their wisdom to help newcomers and find ways to stay current with contemporary educational policy and expectations.

Places teachers in a supportive community of learners. Collaboration with a community of peers is critical to combatting music teacher isolation, a common challenge for music educators. Communities can be formed in many ways, including in person at the school, district, county, or state level, or online. Teachers may find it helpful to participate in a community of teachers who teach similar content, grade levels, or years of teaching experience.

Is voluntary and features autonomy and choice. Teachers learn best when they have input choosing their role. Beginning and early career teachers may benefit from release time for observing other teachers. Mid- to late-career teachers may benefit from facilitating teacher meetings or mentoring student teachers. Providing teachers


choice in how professional development is delivered (e.g., online, face-to-face, lectures, small- or large-group learning) increases teacher engagement in the professional development being offered. Provides opportunity for reflection in a cycle of innovation, feedback, and reconsideration. A cyclical process of learning is more effective than brief, sporadic attempts at trying new things. Reflection and feedback work best when teachers have support from colleagues who share similar professional concerns and who will encourage them in a nonthreatening manner. Creating shared experiences and understandings through participation in collaborative reflection with colleagues is key to ongoing learning and the implementation of new ideas.

Is sustained, with ample site-specific support for classroom implementation. Professional development involves more than single conference presentations or in-service days. More than an hourly requirement, professional development is a long-term approach to learning: a semester-, year-, or career-long venture. Taking a course, joining a PLC, or regular attendance at state, regional, or national MEA conferences are all important pieces of comprehensive PD. Each of these can be even more impactful when teachers attend with colleagues with whom they can reflect on these shared experiences and who can offer support in translating new concepts and ideas into the shared local school site and into each unique classroom context.

Results in teacher learning and improved practice. Teachers who engage in sustained efforts to improve their teaching develop a vision and understanding about teaching, learning, and students. Along with this curricular vision, teachers develop dispositions, practices, and tools that support their teaching and enhance student achievement. They report improved job satisfaction and increased feelings of efficacy. Teacher learning usually improves teachers’ methods for supporting their students’ growth and development.

Finding Good Models for PD

When looking for models of effective PD, start by reviewing the Alabama Standards for Effective Professional Development adopted by the State Board of Education ( and Technical/Alabama Professional Development Standards.pdf). The Department of Education’s Teaching and Learning Improvement Division ( articulates those professional development activities aligned with these Standards, which may include the completion of coursework at a regionally accredited institution (allowable credit), participation in web-based and live workshops and trainings provided by institutions or professional organizations such as AMEA (allowable clock hours of professional development), or completion of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification. Lesser known, are opportunities for individuals or groups of educators to propose personalized, employer-verified professional development experiences related to travel, presentation, course auditing, supervision of student interns, and book studies. If you are interested in crafting unique PD experiences, share the eKit with colleagues, school administrators, Human Resources Department,

October/November 2018

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