As I continue to work on an innovative strategy for SCH professional development, I regularly ask myself the following question: how can we transform PD to make it engaging for faculty with a true focus on being student-centered?
I recently read the article PD: How do educators get to know what they don’t know by Tom Whitby. In his article, Whitby discusses the two camps currently existing in educational reform and professional development. Whitby states that ….”The first camp would like to blow up the system and start all over. The other camp wants to continue the status quo while working to change it in directions governed by whatever dominant force of change has the ear of the public at the time.”
Similar to Whitby’s stance, I find myself in the middle of the two camps, finding the value in each. In terms of PD, I want to completely blow up the “one size fits all” approach that many of us have experienced with less than stellar results. On the other hand, I’m not quite ready to transition away from the strategy whereby one or two experts facilitate a learning experience for a group of educators whose expertise is under construction. Whitby goes even further into the PD discussion, recommending that… “We need to examine the way we approach professional development in education.” He points to the current model where educators are often on their own in finding PD opportunities, an effort that can be very effective for those who have the desire and know-how to use social media and other online resources for information. On the other hand, how can we expect our faculty and staff to begin individualized PD practice when they might not know where or how to begin? We can’t presuppose that everybody is prepared to connect with colleagues on topics about which they have no prior knowledge. Thus, my position on internal professional development has become one of “teachers teaching teachers.”
Looking into my crystal ball, I begin to see a lot of personalized PD taking place similar to what George Couros describes in his blog post Learning Should Be Like
“I read a blog post found in my Reader feed, which leads me to a link on YouTube, that leads me to a quote, which led me to the person who stated the quote, to find a link on their Twitter profile, only to find another article on something that I would have never found myself. I could go on from there, and I eventually will, but it is just amazing how one item leads to another and another and so on. That is how learning should be – continuous, connected, and meaningful. If I hadn’t been interested in what was under the first link, I would have found another.”
What Couros describes, along with continuing face-to-face collaborative efforts with colleagues, edcamps and unconferences, is what I like to call “PD Paradise.” I leave you with a humorous video that either demonstrates kindness or just how comfortable we are with the ubiquity of mobile phones in our worlds….you decide.
As always, feel free to leave comments below.