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Educator Effectiveness

Professional Learning

Spotlight on Racial Equity

Prioritizing long-term investments in anti-bias/anti-racism professional development for both educators and school- and district-level leaders aligned to your teaching and learning priorities (e.g., implementing a framework for culturally responsive teaching, understanding the role of bias in teaching and leading) is essential to supporting educators who will nurture and cultivate academic achievement, cultural and linguistic competence, sociopolitical awareness, and emotional intelligence among all students. Consider the following:

  • Seek a balance between professional learning that supports both technical and adaptive shifts associated with the development of culturally responsive teaching and leading.
  • Use professional development offerings to support trauma-informed care practices, offering all staff members the opportunity to address the intersections of trauma with culture, history, race, gender, location, and language, and acknowledge the compounding impact of structural inequity.

Ricardo Dobles
"Although at our school we often have conversations about equity, we didn't do the harder work...forcing people to deal with their own stuff depending on who they are. So that is not to say that your race means you do or do not have work to do, but it is to say that your race means that the work looks different."
Ashley Davis
Principal Advisory Cabinet Member

Current Considerations

PD Priorities

Center professional development around priorities for serving students' needs:

  • Promote Deeper Learning: Support educators to select and skillfully implement high-quality and engaging instructional materials that support culturally and linguistically sustaining practices and foster deeper learning so that all students engage in grade-level work that is real-world, relevant, and interactive.
  • Support the Whole Child: Provide professional development for educators focused on fostering joyful, healthy, and supportive learning environments so that all students feel valued, connected, nourished, and ready to learn.
  • Use Data to Adjust Instruction: Support educators to grow in their ability to gather, analyze, and — most importantly — adjust instruction in response to student data. Support for these skills may be especially important for the success of English learners and students with disabilities. When educators skillfully rely on data, instead of bias or assumptions, to make instructional decisions, they also grow in their cultural responsiveness.

Best Practices

Support School Leaders

Clear, actionable PD for principals will be critical to support their leadership. Areas of leadership uniquely critical to this moment include:

  • Effectively communicating and partnering with families in support of student-centered learning.
  • Targeting intentional PD and mentoring supports for novice principals (see the Principal Induction and Mentoring Handbook )
  • Providing meaningful supports to educators so that they can focus their attention on effective teaching and learning.

Provide Content- and Curriculum-Specific Support

Develop Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Practice

Across Massachusetts, our student population is becoming increasingly diverse. Our education system is steeped in norms, traditions, and a lens that too often do not reflect and may not be supportive of this diversity. All students, families, and communities should have access to schools that believe this diversity is an asset and reflect, include, and sustain their cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The following resources can support PD on culturally and linguistically sustaining teaching and leading:

Cultivate a Collaborative Culture of Learning

  • As educators return to full-time in-person teaching, deepen models of inquiry-based cycles of continuous learning among teachers so that they can identify and explore areas of success, growth, and opportunity together.
  • Establish and maintain regular, collaborative settings in the workday for small groups of educators to plan, assess, and share best practices.
  • Establish communities of practice for school leaders and instructional coaches to share best practices and supports.

Questions to Consider

  • How will our professional learning support equity and anti-racism in our school and district?
  • How can we continue to leverage flexible professional development models (e.g., asynchronous, hybrid) to support educators' workload?
  • What are our school/district goals, and what types of professional learning will best support those goals?
Additional Resources


For their contributions to this module, we'd like to thank DESE's Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign.


Denham, Susanne A., and Chavaughn Brown. ""Plays nice with others": Social-emotional learning and academic success." Early Education and Development 21.5 (2010): 652-680.

Please contact us at with questions, feedback, or for additional support and partnership around any of the practices and resources included in this guide.

Last Updated: November 17, 2023

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