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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

COVID-19 Considerations

PD Priorities

Center professional development around priorities for serving students' needs:

  • Accelerate Academic Learning: The Acceleration Roadmaps are tools for teachers and leaders in Massachusetts to support acceleration of student learning. While all students were impacted, the pandemic exacerbated many existing inequities and opportunity gaps. This roadmap is designed to provide a focused and phased approach to supporting students as they return to school in the new academic year.
  • Prioritize Social-Emotional Support: Students need connection, trust, and strong relationships with peers and adults now more than ever before. Educators prepared to provide these supports will not only promote student social and emotional well-being, but also positive academic outcomes. Provide PD supports that help educators grow in their ability to build supportive relationships with students and their families through positive and responsive classroom and school cultures.
  • 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.

Federal Stimulus Funding to Support PD

An LEA must reserve at least 20% of funds to address learning loss through implementing evidence-based interventions and programs that respond to students' academic, social, and emotional needs, and address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented student subgroups. Professional development that advances these priorities will be critical to addressing student learning needs this year.

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:

  • Implementing flexible, effective staffing models
  • 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

Build Culturally Responsive Practice

All students deserve a culturally responsive education: instruction and pedagogy that build students' academic achievement, cultural competence, and sociopolitical awareness. The following resources can support PD on culturally responsive teaching and leading:

  • Culturally Responsive Teaching Video Library: The Culturally Responsive Teaching Video Library features exemplars of culturally responsive teaching by MA educators. These 10–25 minute videos were reviewed and selected by Massachusetts educators in partnership with The Teacher Collaborative and The Teachers' Lounge.

  • Culturally Responsive Look-Fors for Classroom Teacher Focus Elements : This resource lists observable, culturally responsive teacher and student actions, or look-fors, for seven foundational elements from the Classroom Teacher Model Rubric. This resource was informed by the contributions of OPTIC Content Fellows, a group of MA educators and educator preparation faculty with strong expertise in subject matter content and culturally responsive teaching.

  • Facilitator's Guide — Using OPTIC to Strengthen Understandings of Culturally Responsive Teaching : OPTIC is an online platform that enables groups of educators to collectively view videos of classroom instruction, individually score the observed practice in specific focus areas in relation to content and pedagogy standards, and draft written feedback to the teacher. This Facilitator's Guide supports professional development workshops trainings in which educators collaboratively assess instruction through a culturally responsive lens and compare their perceptions to benchmark scores from OPTIC Content Fellows.

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: August 30, 2022

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