June 17, 2013
How To Make Sure Professional Development Is Not An Oxymoron – From Patrick on Edudemic
This post, from Patrick Larkin, first appeared on Edudemic. I have always contended that the term “Professional Development” is an oxymoron for most educators. Let’s face it, most people do not look forward to Professional Development (PD) Days in their school district due to the fact that most of these are created with someone else deciding what is most important for the learners. While there are certainly exceptions to this approach of deciding what professionals need to learn about, the fact of the matter is that most educators do not have enough of a voice when it comes to their own learning. It is interesting to me that we focus a lot of time looking at differentiation, learning styles, and relevance when it comes to student learning but then toss these factors out the window when it comes to the learning opportunities for the adults in our schools. Maybe it is the time crunch or the ever-increasing number of mandates that we need to implement? Whatever our excuse, we need to find a way to present learning opportunities for our staff that replicate the types of opportunities we would like to see for our students in the classroom. The question for the administrators setting up PD Days is - How would you evaluate this learning experience if it was one that you were viewing with students taking part instead of staff? In our district, we have had a lot of discussions about Phillip Schlechty’s “Eight Qualities of Engaging Student Work.” (Graphic Below) From my standpoint, we could change PD dramatically for the better if we focused our professional learning efforts on just two of these eight qualities, choice and learning with others. In regards to choice, it baffles me that we do not allow more choice for the talented educators that we have hired to lead their own learning and go deeper on topics and issues that impact their day-to-day efforts with students. While I understand that a neatly organized schedule for the year of upcoming PD events looks great on paper, I know that we would never expect a teacher to create a schedule of learning for their students that was set in stone ahead of time.