Nov 30

A Small-Dose Approach to Improve the Effects of Professional Development on Teachers’ Instruction

Teachers understand how different techniques or approaches with the same subject matter can affect a lesson’s impact on students. The same is true when teachers become the students in their ongoing learning. For many, transitioning from traditional methods to a new, small-dose approach can improve the effects of professional development on teachers’ instruction in their classrooms.

What is a small-dose approach?

In his New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits, author James Clear stresses the importance of optimizing daily habits and routinely making small changes for long-term improvement by getting just one percent better each day. A one percent improvement might seem insignificant at first, but marginal gains add up over time and compound for a more significant effect. Daily improvement of just one percent may not sound notable, but it equates to more than 36 times the improvement after one year of steady commitment! Perhaps that’s why Mr. Clear describes the concept of atomic habits as “tiny changes, remarkable results.”

Other research supporting the small-dose theory appears in a Nature Reviews Psychology article. Lead author Shana Carpenter, an Iowa State University professor of psychology, describes the concept of spacing as learning in small doses and intermittently returning to the material over time, leading to better retention. Carpenter maintains that the technique has repeatedly been proven effective in studies for more than 100 years, but it has yet to be utilized to its fullest extent. She claims that using a small-dose approach more often would dramatically increase learning retention and any level.

What are the benefits of small-dose professional development?

Time is one resource teachers always seem to lack. The best—and most convenient—professional development fits into and around teachers’ busy schedules by being digestible in short on-demand chunks. Frequent and smaller doses of professional learning can lead to more effective professional development. 

When videos and materials are designed and prepared for smaller doses, it’s easier for teachers to use part of a planning period, a break, or whenever time allows to tackle new or unique challenges in their classroom.

The small-dose approach makes it more convenient for teachers to participate when it best fits their schedules. Additionally, when looking for resources, remember that research has shown that effective professional development is also relevant, supports collaboration, and offers the opportunity for reflection.

Avanti’s Small-Dose Approach to Teachers’ Professional Development

Avanti’s online professional development for teachers maximizes learning time by delivering relevant, convenient, and proven strategies in small doses. 

Here’s how it works:

  • You’ll spend three to five minutes watching a video of a real teacher discussing a proven, field-tested strategy and offering practical guidance on how to implement it in your classroom.
  • Review the strategy’s accompanying implementation guide, evaluation tools, or other downloadable resources as needed.
  • Put the strategy into practice with your students!
  • Record personal reflections and learn from an online community of supportive teachers—then begin your next small dose by finding your next video!

Are you ready to try the small-dose approach? Spend 10 minutes checking out a few free professional development videos from our library. By signing up for a seven-day free trial, you gain access to more than 300 videos, each three to minutes long. Join Avanti’s community of teachers dedicated to mastering their craft and making a difference in their students’ lives.

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