I had coffee with a colleague the other day. In the course of our conversation, she told me how overwhelmed she was by her new position in a public school. This is her first year back teaching in a public school after a number of years in an independent school. But this is not her first year teaching, rather she has over a decade in teaching experience. Yet she was feeling overwhelmed. The number of frameworks and learning standards that needed to be incorporated, left little room for any creativity or differentiation. The professional development she has received from the district, while extensive, all was geared to these frameworks and how can the students be made more aware of the learning targets and use these as references in their school day. Further she was required to do an online professional development piece and the only time she had for this was weekend afternoons.
Why do I start with this story? Because this is not what I mean when I say Professional Development On Your Time (PDOYT). I have written before about PDOYT (http://edtechease.com/index.php/blog/pdyot-professional-development-on-your-time). When I use PDOYT, I am referring to finding the time to enrich your teaching pedagogy or learning a new resource to engage your students. Or even meeting with a coach to enhance your lesson planning or differentiation opportunities for the students.
Frameworks are great to guide educators in developing effective classroom practices. But they should only be guides. Each classroom has different academic and social-emotional needs, even within a grade level. And certainly from grade level to grade level and these needs change each year with a new configuration of students. Professional Development from the school or district should not be about making each classroom uniformly the same. Rather it should be about teacher development. Creating a culture of teacher learning will be more beneficial to the process of the students then whether the students can just recite the learning targets.
Originally posted on Friday, 08 December 2017.