We hear so much about transforming education: it conjures a vision of lightning striking and suddenly everything is new. But, I wonder if transformation happens in small often imperceptible ways.
For instance, this article on open education resources is mostly about the concerns of commercial providers. But buried deep in the last paragraphs is a shift in how schools approach both teacher work and professional development:
The department official agreed that adopting open resources can require teachers and other staff to devote much more time to content selection and curation than they otherwise might. “It definitely takes an investment,” he said. But he said a growing number of districts are finding ways to pay teachers for that work. Some of them are redirecting existing money spent on professional development to do so.
Two big points here: paying teachers to do the work AND repurposing professional development funds. I’m hoping the latter means that they are also repurposing professional development, counting the work of review as PD.
Investing this time can lead to a better understanding of the curriculum:
Teachers and administrators said they gained a much stronger understanding of the curriculum, and they were heavily invested in making sure it made sense for their classroom peers and students.
Rethinking teacher pay and professional development could be one of those small changes hidden in larger conversations.
All of these could be longer posts but I need to go outside and battle the weeds some more, so for now, you get a punch list of things I am thinking about after being part of the #satchat Twitter chat:
1. I bristle whenever I hear someone say EVERY and ALWAYS whether it’s about testing or rearranging the room or, even, coding.
2. I believe you can be passionate about your work but also have other interests. Teachers who do not participate in tweet chats are not bad teachers. We shouldn’t make teachers feel guilty about not being passionate enough to devote every waking hour to their work.
3. If we–leaders, coaches, teachers–truly believe that collaboration ala Twitter or other media is an important part of professional learning and growth, we must find time for it in the work day. If there isn’t enough time, then we either get rid of something else OR we lengthen the work day OR we find some way to give credit for it like we do when you take a graduate class.
A brief observation before heading out to the first full day of the CoSN Conference. Yesterday, I had the chance to meet with a group of other state leaders. There was lots of learning but the best came as a round table discussion around various practices. We all had something to contribute; we all had questions that needed answered. The facilitator was smart: she saw the good sharing and, despite blowing up the agenda, she let it keep going, finding places where information could be shared via email instead of face to face. I know teachers don’t always have that option, but sometimes it’s worth giving up our agenda for the good of the group when the learning and sharing are more powerful than that curriculum and content. It’s also a lesson for professional developers out there: create a structure for learning that includes opportunities for the participants to ask and answer the questions around the content. You, the trainer, don’t have to be talking all the time.
The title of this post, by the way, isn’t original to me: it comes from a colleague in Virginia who made the comment during a recent meeting. We have so much to learn from and share with others when it comes to how we are chipping away at the wicked problems of education.
Thanks to David Croteau, a sociology professor and member of the ALT Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University for annotating and sharing this article from Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume XIX, Number 1, Spring 2016 about effective professional development for teaching online. It is really a blueprint for making ALL professional development more effective with recommendations for smaller, more personalized and customized work that focuses on curriculum and teaching rather than just tools.
Articles like this are why I always check the Diigo updates from ALT Lab when browsing morning email.
Session for RPDIT 2015
This hands on session will focus on ways to collect data through formal and informal assessments. Here are the links: