Saturday, November 26, 2016

Support for Teachers in Professional Learning

The dreaded words..."professional development." Yeah, I said them. You would think that many teachers would love the day away from the classroom, but many teachers fear those words and often don't want to partake in a day of being "developed."

As a teacher with less than ten years under my belt, I am grateful for the learning I have received. Not all "PD" I've been involved in is me, some of them have been BAD (the kind that makes you want to crawl in a hole because you've sat in the seat all day long and have done NOTHING). When I think of professional development, I think of the type of learning that has stuck with me: hands-on training with science experiments and technology, my Apple Institute training, and technology conferences. These were amazing opportunities where I wasn't "developed," but I actively learned through collaboration and discovery. It was learning that was authentic and meaningful to me.

As I look around in education, the motivation of teachers to learn has been masked by initiatives that pull in many directions, sit and get passive workshops that lead to little or no growth, a lack of ongoing support during implementation, and minimal inspiration and guidance to be creative and think outside of the box. The needs of the teacher have been ignored because the teacher's voice has been forgotten.

There's the potential for schools to literally be the best place for teachers to teach and students to learn-I truly believe this. But for this to take root and blossom, I also believe that the culture of the school has to change. I developed a Google Slides presentation (seen below) that challenges the need to change by considering 5 effective principles for professional learning from Allison Gullamhussein as well as the first thing that should be considered: the teachers' voice. We're fooling ourselves if we believe that one-size fits all development is what is needed. Every school has the ability to provide professional learning that teachers crave and thrive from, but it must start with a desire to cultivate an atmosphere that is filled with authentic and ongoing support based upon the needs of the teachers and students.

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