What are the biggest problems with common teacher professional development practices and how can they be fixed?
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Every teacher has sat through some awful required professional development sessions. This series will explore the biggest problems with typical educator professional development what could be done, instead. Melissa C. Radio Show. By the way, you can also now listen to the show on Google Play and Stitcher , in addition to iTunes.
I've been leading a fair amount of professional development for our faculty lately on teaching English Language Learners. One of the key components of each session is having multiple student panels comprised of ELLs. In these sessions, the student panels are clearly the high-points. I always tell the students afterwards that the anonymous evaluations always focus on their talks, with very little comments made on my parts of the training. They think I'm just trying to make them feel good until I actually show them the sheets!
A teacher's professional development experience needs to be in agreement with the overall approach to teaching and learning that defines the learning environment. If the school is about Deeper Learning - the learning opportunities need to include the Deeper Learning tenets.
Taking Charge of Professional Development: A Practical Model for Your School, Dec/
If the school wants their students to personalize their learning, teachers need to personalize their learning. When you believe something about learning, it needs to permeate all aspects of learning in the system, not just for the children. In an attempt to have a common experience and make sure everyone gets the same thing, professional development is often targeted at the middle. Those that are pacing faster or have more experience are bored and those that are new to the concept and struggling are swimming.
People that plan professional development need to address the scope of learners that they are working with on a continuum.
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I often present a range of resources and points of entry to the learning to allow for teachers to come into the concepts at a pace and range that make sense for them as a learner. This isn't the fastest way to plan PD, but it often yields a more effective outcome than having large swaths of the staff not getting what they need.
Talking at folks often makes people feel as they have done due diligence in relaying some important message. It's relied on far too heavily in the professional development world. Matching the experience around the learning to the information that is being relayed is important. Use strategies that you would like teachers to be using in the classroom, to craft learning experiences for the teachers. It's important to remember that often teachers are so cooked by the time its PD time, that they are ready to be talked at Think intensively about when is the best time for professional development and what your school is prepared to accomplish in that time.
I grew up in a system that did teacher PD on Monday mornings and let the kids sleep in for a late start, every week. I've worked in systems that did early release on certain days of the week. Some schools try to squeeze in 45 minutes after the school day. I even knew a school that did PD from pm on Fridays. With the exception of the Friday time slot, all of those options can be productive as long as the PD planners are being mindful of what shape their learners are going to be in as they entering the learning space.
Teachers are people too and need consideration given to what they can be expected to accomplish based on the timing.
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Think about pacing, chunking, interaction as you plan the time. Learning is fun. Principals love to learn about new things. Often they return from conferences with all kinds of new learning to share. When planning professional development for the year, try to exercise some discipline in not blowing up the yearly plan with new initiatives throughout the year.
Decide what your focus is for the year and try so very hard to hold yourself and your community to that bar.
Introducing new initiatives in the middle of a year send some really disjointed messages to the teachers. Bringing in a new tool or resource to enhance the current initiatives is a wonderful thing. Walking in with a plan for PBL mid year, after defining the goals for the years differently, is painful. She is an author of the book Management in the Active Classroom. For me, the biggest problems with common teacher professional development practices can be summarized--and solved--in three sentences:. The amount we have learned about best teacher practices in the classroom over the decades I have worked in education is truly thrilling.
Our advances in brain science, our knowledge of how memory and retention works, a more expansive and accurate definition of what student achievement means: these things make for some of the most effective and exciting teaching I have ever seen. Yet in my own professional development and others', I am consistently struck by how our knowledge of best practice continues to be applied to students in the classroom, but rarely--if ever--makes its way over to the teaching of the teachers themselves.
I often remember a story a colleague told me of taking a class on student differentiation--in which my colleague sat in a chair silently and was lectured to for hours. What teacher hasn't experienced irony like this? We have to do better, and I contend it is far easier than many people think. Below are four "moves" that EL Education, my professional home, regularly employs in its professional development with teachers.
What is Jolt?
To any experienced educator the moves will look suspiciously familiar. That's because good professional development for teachers doesn't have to be rocket science, or especially tweaked for the adult brain. It's a simple approach: if it works for students, it will work for teachers too. My favorite example of the need for this seemingly obvious, but all too rare move is the following: few educational researchers or teacher preparation programs in the United States address effective classroom management Emmer, Sabornie, Evertson, and Weinstein, We've done our bit to address this through writing a book on the essentials of good classroom management and creating PD that walks teachers through this oh-so-critical, but chronically overlooked component of teacher development.
It is consistently one of our best received programs. You wouldn't think PD could make you cry, but that's exactly what I did in Memphis recently when a novice teacher came up to us after our classroom management PD and stated bluntly that she would have quit that year if she hadn't come to our training. It's important to give teachers what they need so that they can be the best teachers they can be. In your setting, classroom management may not be the top need for teachers--perhaps it's reading instruction or meeting the needs of English language learners.
What's important is learning from teachers what it is, and providing it. In fact, yes. We believe firmly that student ownership is critical to learning, and perhaps their presence is even more critical in teacher training. Where students cannot be physically present, we approximate as much as we can by examining oodles of genuine student work, watching videos of kids in real classrooms, and demonstrating lessons for teachers by asking them to act as students "putting on the student hat".
A critical challenge of many classrooms is providing clear guidance on what is being taught, and whether what is being taught has been mastered. We structure our PD in exactly the same way we ask teachers to structure their lessons: by providing clear learning targets and self-reflecting on them actively and often through journals, note-catchers, and checks for understanding.
In this way, teachers never leave us feeling confused or doubtful about what we've been teaching them and whether they've grasped it. Teachers' time is precious. We make sure every minute of our PD not only teaches teachers the content, but also immerses them in tips and techniques they can bring back into their classrooms the very next day. Table of Contents Preface ix Acknowledgments xiv Introduction: The Way Schools Can Be 1 1 Inspiration to Change 11 How do you increase the morale of teachers so that they embrace new initiatives, without overwhelming the teachers and administrators with new responsibilities?
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