OK, No More Professional Development

Link to: 2 Cents Worth » OK, No More Staff Development

David Warlick’s recent post suggests replacing the notion of a staff development plan for schools considering 1:1 computer or tablet initiatives with a more comprehensive concept of creating a staff development infrastructure. That infrastructure would include some key components of building ongoing communities of practice where teachers could support each other in managing their own learning:

  • Have the time to reflect and retool (at least three hours a day),
  • Have ready access to local and global ideas and resources that are logically and socially indexed,
  • Have the skills to research, evaluate, collaborate, remix, and implement new tools and techniques (contemporary literacy),
  • Are part of an ongoing professional conversation where the expressed purpose is to provoke change (adapt),
  • Leave the school from time to time to have their heads turned by new experiences,
  • Share what they and their students are doing with what they teach and learn — their information products and relics of learning become an explicit and irresistibly interwoven part of the school’s culture.

Back in the olden days I did lots of workshops on professional development for student affairs folks in higher education based on my dissertation research. One of the points that I made in those workshops was that professional development was more about the attitude of continually extracting and sharing meaning from the work they were doing than it was about participating in activities. David’s list is an excellent summary of how to operationalize that attitude using a set of tools that we weren’t even dreaming about back in 1991.

It would be interestsing to reframe this list to clearly articulate how we could use these tools in build that culture at William and Mary to support our 1:1 computing initiative.

4 thoughts on “OK, No More Professional Development”

  1. Great stuff. That first bullet point’s a real doozy, though. Nearly half of each workday spent on reflection and retooling? I think that’s a necessity, too, but how to sell that cost to the public?

  2. I always reflect at the beginning and ending of the day (I don’t think it’s 3 hours worth) but I find that I can’t function if I skip that part of my routine.

    As a part of the EPPL grant that I received, it would have been wonderful if we could blog our reflections. Instead, I have been given a marblilzed composition notebook like I used in high school. As a part-time student who is not living in the Williamsburg area, it would be nice if the requirement could have been blog once per month (2 is ideal) and respond to two other members blogs; however, this would require a cultural and behavior change.

    It is hard to blog with each other in this particular class only because of the differences in education emphasis: special ed administration, technology administration, school administration, etc.

    Yes, I agree that blogging creates the blogging infrastructure for continous professional development. I know I am probably being wimpy by taking the middle road but until now. I feel that my blog can switch over to policy and law of special education which is my area of interest with a little technology thrown into the mix. I really see the infrastructure but if you asked me in the beginning of the course, I would have said that blogging would not be able to help with my professional development; of course, I see a huge urgency to the whole thing as I read what others have to say. Since I put out my first blog, I have been trying to get the teachers to read and respond to my posts – they are not ready yet, I guess but I keep trying to prompt the tool.

    For blogging to be successful within the community, the community has to have a common focus and I think our group’s interests, while in education, is very different; perhaps, blogging communities @ W & M could be centered around the major’s subject area. It certainly should be required as a community of practice in EPPL program with the graduate students.

    I did read your post on Gardner Writes about us :). You are right that we have been keeping things back (at least I know I have) because Ivan has made me question if I should be risking my future career when I have not gotten my administration job yet.

  3. Blogging’s tough work–which be one reason that there are so many blogs that consist totally of one entry. Finding that community of folks who share your interests and enthusiasms is an art–even with the new communications infrastructure. (You’re right about our class–it’s hard to imagine a more diverse group of interests and areas of emphasis!)

    You’ve internalized the attitude of professional development so that it’s become such a part of your own routine that you can’t function without it. That’s the kind of lifelong learning that allows teachers to continue to renew themselves in spite of the challenges you face.

    I did read your post on Gardner Writes about us :). You are right that we have been keeping things back (at least I know I have) because Ivan has made me question if I should be risking my future career when I have not gotten my administration job yet.

    I don’t blame you a bit; I hold back on my and I already have an administration job!

  4. Gardner asks about how to sell extending teachers’ professional time. Of all the restructuring ideas that ever suggest, this is the one that gets the most, “Yea! Right!, and pigs can fly!” But I think that the selling point is to figure out what the cost is of not giving teachers time to reflect, retool, research, self-develop, plan, produce, and collaborate. We need to be thinking and talking about what our classrooms might be like if we did have 3 or 4 hours of supported professional planning time each day, what our children might learn and how they might learn. That’s the cost.

    Also, where does the time come from. There are a number of possible scenarios, but the one that appeals the most to me is for us to figure out what it is that students learn best in traditional classrooms, learning be interacting face to face with teachers and with each other; and what students learn best out side the classroom sitting at a computer connected to the networks, research, remixing, producing, and collaborating. We may find that students only need to be in the classroom for four hours a day. The concept of homework would change.

    The challenge remains, where do these kids go during the hours they’re not in the classroom, but that’s not our problem. Ours is preparing a generation of people for an unpredictable future.

    2 more cents worth!

    — dave —

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