While they serve a purpose, we need to stop thinking about professional development in terms of PD Days sessions and monthly early-Release topics. They’re chunked too far apart, are usually not specifically useful to most classroom teachers, or are either too advanced or remedial for much of the audience. Not to mention, that sitting in a room listening to an “expert” is exactly what we’re trying to move away from as educators. Professional development should be as close to the teachers practice as possible.
How can we do that? I’m gonna muse out loud here:
A start could be to attempt a culture change by seriously getting teachers out of their rooms and seeing best practices first-hand
Maybe inviting “experts” into rooms where teachers would like to learn so that they can try it out on their own students, with back-up
Once staff starts seeing these things happening in their building, they’re either gonna want to take part, or at the very least acknowledge that there is something different happening that people are excited about
Once culture starts to shift, I’m guessing you’ll see more teachers taking it upon themselves to learn, question, think, be curious, and play. I’ve seen this happen in my building a number of times on various topics in unofficial capacities. In short, if we build it, they will come.
It’s important that each building has collaboration time built into their day with as few distractions (meetings, duties) as possible. Most of the really cool things I’ve tried to do have started as informal conversations I’ve had with people during our collaboration time that evolved over the course of several weeks and multiple ongoing discussions.
Give us freedom to experiment (which I think I’m finally starting to see in a really real way from the top). If you want us to innovate, you have to create conditions that encourage me to experiment.