There is much talk of personalized professional development in education on social media. A lot.
Each year school boards and the Ministry of Education offer professional development opportunities to their teachers (and sometimes school principals). This concept is not new. So how do we explain the exponential growth of interest in PD ? It’s simple: because we have always done it ….. the same way. And for a long time now the majority of staff have been saying that this PD is ineffective. (eg see this study by The Center For Public Education) What are the reasons ?
In my experience the biggest reason is the lack of an implementation plan for sustained support following the provision of PD. According to a study by Joyce and Showers in 2002 (yes, 2002!), a teacher masters a new skill after 20 instances in which she or he has practiced it, and that this number may increase depending on the complexity of the skill (see this article). It is clear that when we are planing PD (in all its forms), we need to include a practical component in which participants can immediately implement a tool or strategy in their daily practice. In addition, learners would benefit from having an implementation plan and a sustained support plan in order to encourage maximum transformation of practice during the weeks and months following PD.
PREVIOUS KNOWLEDGE AND INTERESTS
Unfortunately, learners are not often consulted during the planning stage of PD. What do they already know? What are their interests in relation to the theme? Asking participants to complete a simple survey can be very useful and allows the planning of professional development that is much more personalized to their needs.
“In addition, learners would benefit from having an implementation plan and a sustained support plan in order to encourage maximum transformation of practice.”
Why would we not want to actively involve learners? During PD, we need to provide opportunities for discussion and reflection, and in differentiated forms. You have to give them a voice. Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger) wrote an excellent article in which he lists many tools that can be used to get the conversations flowing.
Here are a few ideas on how you can shake up PD in your school or district:
It is high time we transform the way we plan and deliver PD.
Here is a great visual shared on Twitter by Kartrina Keene (@teachintechgal) that I would like to share with you – The Professional Development Conundrum. It offers great advice and insight!