I was reading Kyle Pace’s blog at SmartBlogs entitled – What Matters in Teacher Professional Development? – and he highlighted three things that are certainly very important for successful PD – choice, value, and support.
Making teacher professional development worthwhile is a challenge for designers and developers. If you use the ADDIE model to design, you start with a few basic questions:
What’s the need?
What do the learners know?
What do they need to know?
How will we bridge the gap?
What we’ve learned with Teacher Learning Communities through Keeping Learning on Track (KLT) is that there are four critical elements that help make teacher professional development meaningful and worthwhile:
Choice: Teachers are like students—they need and appreciate choice. Choice within a given framework or focus allows teachers to determine their personal priorities.
Flexibility: In addition to choice, teachers need to be allowed to make modifications to make the new learning work best in their own classrooms.
Incremental steps: Learning is incremental. It takes time to change practice and to be lasting it must become a part of the teacher’s routine. Professional development for teachers that allows them to practice, in small steps, supports this idea. [As Carol Dweck often refers to – by applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will get a lot better.]
Supportive accountability: Change in teaching practice is challenging and requires both support and accountability. Teacher Learning Communities provide teachers the opportunity to develop personal action plans, report back to the group what happened as a result of implementing those plans, reflect and receive feedback (support) from colleagues who are working on the same changes in practice.
So to answer Kyle’s question – What matters to you in making your professional development worthwhile?
Professional development that allows me to learn new things, determine for myself what I want to try first (my priorities), sets me up to deliberately practice those things, provides me the opportunity come back together with colleagues and share to learn more – the opportunity to get better at teaching – makes teacher professional development valuable to me.