LL May 12.13

PD Considerations

I truly love Twitter because of the conversations and connections that it can allow. This has certainly been the case recently on my Twitter account as some of my TCDSB folks are going back and forth on what PD should look like.  Here are just some of the comments:

carabache twitter twitter

This is such an amazing part of Twitter: getting ideas out as you think about them. Sharing ideas with people and then waiting for them to expand on them (we all BLOG so I guarantee we will be expanding on these things).  Here is my expansion.

In talking about how PD should be different it is suggested that we need to move away from top-down model and allow the innovation of the teachers to kick in and flourish. This RSA video was the basis for this one:

Stepan’s consideration is that teachers need the time to come together and just let ideas organically grow without too much manipulation or direction from admin or the board. I love the idea of getting away from top-down PD that is canned or prescriptive. There is just too much

of this in the past but I am not about to say that this is the result of sinister, control freaks who occupy the board or the head office of a school. I see that there is a need for some top-down work because without it there would simply not be a lot accomplished since teachers are just too busy doing their jobs to come up with plans and efforts that concerns things outside their rooms. Still, the actual ideas and innovation has to come from the classroom teachers because they are the ones that are charged with executing it. Too many good ideas fail because teachers don’t feel ownership of them and so don’t do them.

With this in mind I think that there has to be a compromise in that I believe that DIRECTION should be top-down and INNOVATION should be grassroots. The leaders of the school and the board are there for a reason and I like to think it is because they have shown the ability to think about big-picture ideas and they have the ability to mobilize and work with people. This leaves them well equipped to set a general direction or to establish a framework that allows for things to happen. Teachers are about ideas that help their students and they are a practical, pragmatic group. For this reason they should be the ones to come up with ideas and lessons that they will execute. If you can have this kind of set up, then I think that PD can become a lot better.

Okay, here is my idea. I would like to see PD exist in a school or even board wide, where 2 or more teachers get together for some time to work on an idea they have. I would insist that there be more than one person, since I would insist on collaboration for this PD model. There would only be 2 expectations or demands for this collaboration:

  1. You MUST ATTEMPT
  2. You MUST REPORT

1. This expectation states that the collaboration must lead to something that the participants actually try. We cannot have a simple academic conversation here but something that the teachers try out. They have to feel comfortable enough to possibly fail but have to try. Innovation is actually doing something that has not been done before so you have to try.

2. The other expectation is that the participants MUST report to the larger staff what they worked on and what they tried. They need to talk about the successes and the failures and be willing to consider the comments of the whole to make their practice better. The community also needs to be willing and open to the ideas and hopefully look to implement the things that make sense to them.

I sincerely think that this model can work and look forward to the possibility in my career of trying it out. I think it can be a great way to not only come up with new ideas, but I think even more important, to create a community with a spirit of innovation and collaboration. Would love to see what people have to say about this and get some more ideas.

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One Response to LL May 12.13

  1. Very interesting ideas here. I love the idea of teacher-directed PD. I’ve experienced some great learning as an NTIP Mentor when I’ve visited the schools of the new teachers I’m mentoring. I think the key to those situations is that both parties are interested and engaged in the learning and have actively sought it out. I have seen teachers collaborate and take on all kinds of administrative work in service of a great idea that they truly believe will benefit the kids in their class.
    At the same time, the reality of PD (money, loss of teaching time) means that board cannot just allow this PD to occur without some sort of record/artifact. The politics of our time require ‘results’ for public money spent. For that reason, I like the ATTEMPT/REPORT model you have proposed. It seems like the sort of model that the board could live with. It also seems the most likely way that successful ideas (or frankly, ones that just didn’t work out – lots of learning there) could be shared with other teachers. I’d like to see these reports shared online so interested teachers across the board could benefit.

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