Photo above: The Hertford Bridge in Oxford, England. Used by Permission. © Tom Ley 01302 782837

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What does responsive professional development look like?

If we want our teachers to engage students in inquiry in the classroom, they need to experience inquiry through the same activities they would use with their students. If we want them to use technology, we need to consider their beliefs, needs, fears, and interest as they pertain to using technology in the classroom. Professional development should be differentiated based on the needs of the teachers that attend!

What would this look like in action? It begins with identifying where teachers are with relation to the topic of the workshop. For example, if teacher have signed up for a technology workshop, then the assessment should try to identify the entry point for teachers with regard to their belief about the use of technology in the classroom, their comfort level with technology, and which forms of technology (probes, blogs, or other forms) they have used or not used before the workshop.

Next, using the data, workshop sessions could be tailored to meet the needs of the teachers attending. This does not mean 25 different learning plans, but rather means looking for where the data forms groups of teachers that are similar. For example, in a recent technology workshop we held though the Martinson Center; almost all the teachers who attended were novices with regard to the use and design of blogs, wikis, and photostory. We did have one teacher who reported she had been using blogs for a while. To ensure she was continually learning and being stretched, we developed an activity that mirrored what the other teachers would be doing, but its design was a little more complex. Instead of just creating a blog, we asked this teacher to mix blogging with what she learned about voice threads. Not only did this keep her engaged during the course, it also kept her learning as it provided a challenge for her. The workshop leader provided support through coaching in order to ensure she was successful. While it would have been easier to develop a session that had the same activities for everyone, this would not have met all of the needs of the teachers participating. With a little bit of effort, we created activities that met the needs of all teachers participating in the course.

Long story short: If we expect teachers to differentiate instruction for students, then professional development should be differentiated for the teachers.

No comments:

Post a Comment