School administrators are adept at resourceful uses of their budgets. From a professional development standpoint, it can be a challenge to ensure that team members across the district consistently have the support they need to thrive.
This reality is particularly true for school psychologists, who depend on enhancing their skill sets, receiving the latest knowledge, and engaging with professional peers, to fully support students and understand their needs. They also need to take specific, NASP-accredited coursework to stay up to date with their certifications.
School districts and their administrators have good reason to pay close attention to how their professional development budgets are being used – and specifically, whether the programs and services the budget provides for are leaving team members fulfilled and satisfied.
Retention issues have a lot to do with training and development. 20% of employees leave, according to a 2020 Work Institute survey, for development reasons.
Fortunately, there are a few straightforward and savvy ways to innovate your professional development budget.
- Prioritize the “must-haves”
- Give as much control to employees as possible
- Use technology to provide flexibility
We’ll dive deeper into each area below and provide an outline on how directors and districts can harness these strategies.
Prioritize the “must-haves”
If your budget is fairly limited as a school or school district, focus on the areas of professional development that are the most important. This will mean things like ensuring easy access to discussions and content on evidence based practices in special education, best practices in school psychology, or any emerging research that will enhance the way school psychologists work with students. Such must-haves may look different, depending on the needs of your unique school community.
Give as much control to employees as possible
This is a big one. Whatever level of control you can give to the team on how the professional development budget is allocated – even if this level is just a fraction of the funding – do so. Letting them decide how some of this money is used will provide a greater sense of control, and a greater sense of satisfaction that they are receiving the kind of support that will help them.
Of course, give control within reason: The support or training they’re asking for needs to be related to their roles, and cannot break the bank. But good ideas they may have will become possible, if you are able to set a certain amount of money aside.
Use technology to provide flexibility
Digital tools and solutions have become an integral part of school psychologists’ jobs and experiences – well beyond emailing parents and teachers, or even electronic student records. But the use of technology in training is still growing, despite the acceleration to digitization that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The use of digital platforms and online courses for psychologists mean that schedule-burdened professionals can complete development in their own time. Our Learn.Do platform, for instance, is organized as an on-demand and self-paced series of courses, led by two instructors to keep content in-depth, well-rounded and engaging. The instructors have a first person understanding of what their peers expect and need from professional development.
Districts may consider providing bite-sized content, or giving their psychs free webinars as a teaser, to show them what digitized professional development will look like for them. If you’re unable to do this on your own, be sure to find a third party partner who offers this support.
Psyched Services’ Learn.Do platform combines cutting-edge knowledge with maximum flexibility for hardworking school psychologists, giving districts the best of both worlds.
Schedule a call to discuss your needs, and how our solutions might work for your district.