Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Need For Effective Professional Learning

What most teachers want to do in their career is do well for their students; they want to help their students grow in their learning and skill so that they become better people, and have something to offer this world. There's no doubt that education is changing: new initiatives, new learning philosophies, and new technology have infiltrated the classroom. 
  • We need hands-on, purposeful guidance that gives them opportunities to learn alongside of their students. 
  • We need "conditions that foster growth, not finding quick-fix professional development solutions" (TNTP, 2015, p. 3). 
  • We need someone in the trenches with us.
  • We need support.

The need for effective Professional Learning is evident in Alison Gullamhussein's research. As she puts it, "Professional development in an era of accountability requires a change in a teacher’s practice that leads to increases in student learning" (2013, p. 6). 

While these changes are needed across all subjects and grade levels, I decided to use this as an opportunity to be effective in my subject area of science. 

My Big Hairy Audacious Goal is the following:
The goal is for teachers to acquire the skills necessary to guide their students through scientific inquiry that is appropriate for their grade, and aligns the inquiry command terms amongst K-12 (January PL day goal)

In addition, the goal is for this January PL day to be a launching point for the science department to begin developing a collaborative and supportive team that fosters a growth mindset and puts in action the 5 principles of effective professional learning:
  • Using time to learn a new strategy and wrestle with implementation
  • Gets support during implementation
  • Actively learns together
  • Models new strategies
  • Practices new strategies through the scientific discipline (Gulamhussein).

Time: PL session in January for K-12 science committee, with the hopes for ongoing support throughout the spring semester.

The following presentation will guide us through modeling inquiry, active learning through experimentation that is specific to our subject and grade level.

Collaboration: Throughout the January PL session, teachers will be in an active learning environment of science experimentation with collaboration amongst grade levels and as a department. Spring collaboration will be fostered through accountability partnerships of ongoing support as inquiry implementation happens.

Lead: I will primarily lead the January PL session with the support of the science department head, but much of the session will be self-led during the experimentation process. Department head and principals will play an active role in spring semester implementation and growth.

Audience and their needs: Teachers on the committee are K-12, so needs at each grade level will vary. Inquiry will be aligned according to each grade level, and gaps in our curriculum and vocabulary will be identified for ongoing support needed in the spring. Teachers will have the opportunity at the January PL session to set a SMART goal for inquiry and feedback implementation in the spring semester as well.

A specific detailed outline for this session and future plans can be seen here.
The Understanding by Design backwards plan can be found here.
A Three Column Table that aligns outcomes, assessments, and activities can be found here.
Resources needed for the January PL session can be found here.

My hope is that by modeling best practices for PL, and listening to the needs of the department, teachers find the support and growth that we all desire.

If you are interested in viewing my Tackk board where these resources are summed up, visit that here.

Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Teaching-the-Teachers-Effective-Professional-Development-in-an-Era-of-High-Stakes-Accountability/Teaching-the-Teachers-Full-Report.pdf

Ottawa Catholic School Board Leading and learning for innovation: A Framework for District-Wide Change


TNTP. (2015). The Mirage: Confronting the Hard Truth About Our Quest for Teacher Development. Retrieved from http://tntp.org/publications/view/evaluation-and-development/the-mirage-confronting-the-truth-about-our-quest-for-teacher-development

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