In a previous blog entry, Planning Active Learning for Professionals, I shared a few ideas I’d gathered (then “stolen, made to look like not stolen, then shared among thieves” as an old colleague told me once). My end goal was to create a one-page professional learning planner that could serve as a visual aid.
As a visual learner, it helps me to be able to see as many possible choices and bits of information in a “all on the table” kind of way. That’s why I wanted to build a one-page PLP document. After some false starts, I have settled upon the following document:
|Page 1 of 2 | Get the PDF version|
As you can see, it tries to capture the 3 Step approach. I admit that I added the Professional Development Model question at the top of the document after creating the 3 steps. One of the reasons why it’s such a pain to ponder professional development models is that we sort of already know most of them don’t work as well as we would like.
Key Elements for Professional Development
Below are some key elements of successful professional development. Yes, I swiped these from Kaplan’s web site, The Principles of Effective Professional Development. They have a great summary of some of the research reports I reference below. Ok, here’s the excerpt…
Professional development needs to:
- Be an ongoing experience for educators that provide extended learning opportunities help them master new skills and instructional methods. These have a better chance at positively impacting student learning. (Gulamhussein; Darling-Hammond et al.)
- Be job embedded as much as possible so that what is learned can be applied in the classroom. (DeMonte; Darling-Hammond et al.)
- Provide support for teachers during the implementation stage of using a new instructional method in the classroom. (Gulamhussein).
- Offer content that is specific (e.g. goal, discipline, grade level, developmental stage) instead of generic. (Gulamhussein; Darling-Hammond et al.)
- Be engaging and use varied approaches to support learning for both groups and individuals.(Gulamhussein).
- Include modeling because it helps educators understand new instructional methods (Gulamhussein; Darling-Hammond et al.)
- Promote collaboration among teachers because it leads to better teaching and instruction, helping educators solve problems they are dealing with in the classroom. (DeMonte; Darling-Hammond et al.)
Simply put, professional development needs to be ongoing, job-embedded, specific, as well as model and support implementation in the classroom via various group/individual strategies. PD should also support collaboration among teachers, something which they have little time for during the day. Can anyone say, “Twitter PLN?”
Now that I look at it, what I don’t see and would like to, is how learners are going to create or make their thinking visible. What else do you think is missing that should be there? Please share in the comments.
What Students Need But Often Don’t Get
As you look at the PLP above, you’ll notice that there is a bias towards active learning. Of course, aligning activities learners are engaged in is important. I expect that professional learning from this point forward has to model approaches that mirror the learning styles of Generation Z students. And, of course, you can probably guess what kind of approaches those are (check the chart).
New shifts and reforms “represent a retreat from the traditional rote, fact-based style of instruction toward teaching that fosters critical thinking and problem solving” (Gulamhussein as cited here).
What students need is listed below:
- Investigation and problem-based approaches
- Participation in meaning-making and reasoning
- Questioning strategies
- Generating ideas and questions
For example, the “workshop” approach that we are all so familiar with (91.5% of teachers are subjected to this) has little to no impact on student learning or teacher practice!
“The one-time workshop assumes the only challenge facing teachers is a lack of knowledge of effective teaching practices and when that knowledge gap is corrected teachers will then be able to change” (Gulamhussein as cited here)
Workshops are only effective if they allow for and focus on facilitating learning specific skills or strategies backed by research. Some strategies that can improve the effect of workshops include the following:
- Role playing techniques
- Open-ended discussions of what is presented
- Live modeling
- Visits to classrooms to observe and discuss the teaching methodology
Compare the workshop approach to the “coaching” approach (45% of teachers exposed to to coaching).
For the coaching approach, consider these statistics:
- 5% of learners will transfer a new skill as a result of theory.
- 10% of learners will transfer a new skill as a result of theory and demonstration
- 20% of learners will transfer a new skill as a result of theory, demonstration, practice with training
- 25% of learners will transfer a new skill as a result of theory, demonstration, practice, training and feedback
- 90% will transfer a new skill into their practice with theory, demonstration, practice with the training, feedback and coaching.
Obviously coaching wipes the floor with the workshop approach. Other popular PD models such as Peer Observation (63% of teachers have experienced this), Research (39.8%) are also heavily used. My money is on coaching, though.
Bell (2005) defines peer observation of teaching as a “collaborative, developmental activity in which professionals offer mutual support by:
- observing each other teach; explaining and discussing what was observed
- sharing ideas about teaching
- gathering student feedback on teaching effectiveness
- reflecting on understandings, feelings, actions and feedback
- trying out new ideas
- Peer observation of teaching provides a forum where teaching practices are shared rather than remaining a private activity (D’Andrea 2002a), and this
- encourages reflection on teaching and
- fosters debate about and dissemination of best practice (Hammersley-Fletcher and Orsmond 2005).
- Peer feedback can be used as evidence for teaching award or promotion applications (Hammersley-Fletcher and Orsmond 2004) and
- complements student evaluations since academics provide a different perspective (Hutchings 1996).
- provides a model of peer and self assessment for students (Napan and Mamula-Stojnic 2005).
- Instrumental interpretation of peer observation is insufficient by itself to enhance teacher performance in the classroom.
- “Learning about teaching, and heightening a sense of professionalism stems from a continuous process of transforming personal meaning. This demands an active engagement with pedagogical theory, purposeful critical reflection on classroom practice, and a challenging of assumptions through shared critical reflection” (Source)
So here is page 2 of the PLP, which I imagine would run two-sided on a piece of paper:
|Page 2 of 2 | Get the PDF version|