How do we change professional development to be personalized, equitable, and effective? It's something that has come to the front of my mind through all my travels. What we have right now doesn't check off all of those boxes at once, and because it doesn't, we are always throwing new things at teachers. What if we changed that? What if we took the best of what's out there PD wise and created a paradigm shift? It's possible we just need to have a group that helps lead the districts to water.
When you boil it down, the American teacher tends to have one of 6 different PD experiences. None of them are significant. Most suffer from being one-time training while others just lack the "stickiness" for sustained instructional change.
My thought is this could all start with a district PD day. What if we turned them into goal setting sessions? They could start off with an inspiring keynote that shows what some are doing and what they could strive for. Teachers would then move into a work session. Each work session is aligned with broad goals that are proven improvements to the class experience and are run by a facilitator who is an expert in the area. These aren't presentations. Teachers are given a vast library of resources and time to work on what works for them, their class, and their content. The facilitator is a coach to help them over any bumps they might encounter.
Those could include things like:
The digital platform can be used to learn the nuts and bolts of tools and resources that can help reach that goal. The digital platform can include but not be limited to district-based tools such as devices, learning management systems, and office suites. The digital platform also becomes your touchstone before the next district PD day as it will be issuing micro credentials for every training finished and goal accomplished.
When teachers get to the next district PD day, it becomes a goal check-in. If they reached their goal, it's time to do the process again with a new goal. If they did it, but they were not consistent, a coach is there to support them in any way to move to consistent. If they did nothing to get to that goal, a coach is there to see if a new goal can be set or if they figure out the pain points that stopped them.
Think about what this would do. If we are consistently moving every teacher just one positive step forward, educational change will happen quickly. It gives teachers ownership which can help bring back the creativity that is everything to the learning experience. It also simplifies the job of administration. A teacher would have one goal that they set, and if they are not even trying to get there, administrators know there is a problem.
In the end, this is all about moving teaching forward. What we are doing now isn't working. Let's simplify and personalize!