The following article is the first in a series of collaborative efforts by the K-12 blogging team of Dean J. Fusto (www.teachlearnlead.org), Assistant Principal, Tiawana Giles (Tiawanagiles.wordpress.com), and Anthony Poullard (thepoullard.wordpress.com).
In many K-12 schools, professional development is undergoing a long overdue metamorphosis. The traditional paradigm has shifted in two significant ways. First, we have seen a deviation away from “sage on stage” outside “experts” delivering content and training. Second, teachers have asserted their voice through professional development designs like Edcamps and unconferences. In this post, we share 5 ideas of models that represent productive and purposeful professional development.
Teacher Talks - An informal opportunity for purpose-driven educational chats within the campus. Teachers populate the topics of interests (personal and professional) and 30-minute chats are “facilitated” by teacher leaders on campus. The sessions build on the collective knowledge and experiences in the room. Here are a few examples of Teacher Talks at a Texas high school.
Genius Hour(s) - An opportunity for educators to focus on their own passions to guide and strengthen their professional learning. Time and expectations are strategically designed for educators to learn more and share within the learning community.
Social Media Learning- Educators choose a hashtag (#) on Twitter that reflects their passion and interests to support professional learning. For a comprehensive listing of hashtags, visit the Twitter-PLN page at the www.teachlearnlead.org edu-library. In addition, by exploring other social media sites with an educational focus, teachers can bring ideas back to their classroom and/or professional learning community. Some popular online resources used by educators are listed below:
- Teachers Pay Teachers
Initiative Focused Professional Development - A pathway focused on strengths and needs of school staff. Differentiation of expertise is an essential component within this model to support novice and experienced teachers appropriately.The goal is to help empower teachers and build teacher capacity while increasing student achievement using a common focus.
Books -in- Common - This model, ideally, includes all teachers and administrators in a school. Through a shared reading on any topic in K-12 education, all stakeholders can discuss themes, skills, and standards presented in the book. The chosen text could connect to current school initiatives or to broader themes in education. The goal is to add to a school knowledge base, support professional learning, and encourage ongoing conversations. Depending on the topic, a shared reading project might also open doors of communication with parents and help bridge the gap between home and school.
George Curous highlights in his new book, The Innovator's Mindset, that “the focus… of today’s professional development does not inspire teachers to be creative, nor does it foster a culture of innovation. Instead, it forces inspired educators to color outside the lines, and even break the rules, to create relevant opportunities for their students. These outliers form pockets of innovation.”
We hope through these purposeful and productive models that “pockets of innovation” become the norm throughout education. Please contact any of us for more information, logistics, and reflection on any of these ideas.