Blended Learning · Coaching · Leading Organizational Change · Professional Learning · Reflection

Is Professional Development Really Working?

Professional Development…two words that, when uttered, make a teacher groan. It has become synonymous with boring, unengaging, lectures about the latest and greatest thing in education. Teachers leave without any major takeaways and feel like they’ve wasted their time. I get it. I’ve been on both ends of sitting in a “sit and get” style Professional Development as well as being the one in the painful position of having to disseminate information to a group of uninterested teachers.

Recently, I was lucky enough to attend iNACOL’s Online and Blended Learning Symposium. One of the main focuses was about student agency-allowing for personalization through student voice and choice. It made me start to wonder why we don’t allow our teachers the same opportunities when it comes to their learning. For this reason, I started to focus on Professional Learning for my literature review last class and how it can help make or break an implementation. After looking at the research I realized how far we’ve been from having effective Professional Learning at my school. I say “learning” instead of “development” because a teacher doesn’t want to be “developed”. They want to grow and learn in their profession. This means that we need to provide opportunities for them to work within their Professional Learning Community (PLC) on the items that they feel are a struggle. I feel small, specialized groups that have a specific focus for Professional Learning and can work together to give and receive feedback are going to be what helps my teachers the most as they shift towards blended learning. Based on our teacher surveys, the PDs that have been done so far have made ZERO difference. The teachers are still having problems with the same issues as they were 24 months ago. So we need to make a change. Here’s what I will use:

I created a Google Slides to look at where we started, where we are, and suggestions for where I think we need to go based off of research and teacher survey data. I’m hesitant to share with my administration because, in the past, I’ve learned they do not like to hear that things are going less than stellar. But data speaks. I’m hoping that by using data and providing a “next step” based on Gulamhussein’s 5 Principles of Effective PL, they may be more amenable to changes within our Professional Learning time. If our goal is truly to prevent our initiative from becoming stagnant, we must make some changes in helping our teachers to grow.

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