Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘Professional Development’

Teacher LEARNing, PD, CPD, Training….wotever! When are we going to get it ‘right’?

In Adult Educators, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 13/07/2013 at 8:06 am

TEACHer THUNKS on CPD

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As you can see from those little images, all is not well in the State of Teacher LEARNing, PD, CPD, Training (delete as you “prefer”) – and not just in the sense that I outlined in my last post!

Indeed, when we try to speak to many TEACHers about their PD or professional LEARNing – more often than not, we get a response like this:

Dont make me use my TEACHer voice (TG ver)

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But, maybe…that’s half the problem?

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When we do ask TEACHers to use their voice on allthingsCPD, we tend to find that many of them are split into TWO camps:

CPD (two camps)

…but this is to the “untrained” ear!

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When we dig a little deeper (and I’m more interested in the “unsmiley group” – that is the problem), what we actually hear them saying is things like this:

PD is crap 01

…and a couple of other things, too:

PD is crap 02

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To put it quite bluntly – many of the “solutions” are thereright in front of our eyes!

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason…proportionate use is the key.

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Sure, there many be issues with money and funding (isn’t there always?) – get creative with sponsors! If we really value LEARNing (of the TEACHer variety – and we should), we’ll find a way to trim some “fat” and inject it where it “matters”. Yes, and there might be one or two malcontents out there (in our staffrooms) who will give us a hard time…whatever we do.

Hey, that’s life…deal!

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but...

…the fact remains that…most TEACHers are human beings, too (!) – they too are imagineered for LEARNing…they love LEARNing new things…new stuff…new ways of promoting student LEARNing

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The LEARNing opportunities we provide them just need it to be “fit-for-purpose”…to be convenient…to be useful…and FUN (but not just a “laugh-and-giggle show”)…

Gamification 02

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There’s been a few really good posts thrown into the blogosphere of late – many of them offer some great THUNKS on how to get it right:

Blogger (still ignore you)

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Adam Bellow did a lovely post based on FOUR critical wordsPD: Four Ways to Start Changing the World This Summer

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Josh Round did one some time back (but I only found it this week) – What to Put in the CPD Pot – full of sensible practical ideas.

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Med Kharback (aka @medkh9) put an EDtech and DIY “spin” on professional development in his post – Top 8 EdTech Tools for Teacher CPD.

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Laura Conley gets us to think about “flipping” (no, not THAT type !) with her great post – 7 Steps To Flipped Professional Development (first appeared on gettingsmart.com).

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@WhatEdSaid (aka Edna Sackson) made a storming return to the blogosphere with her – 10 Principles of Effective Professional LEARNing… – a post that stretches us to be “thunking doers” not just “PD delivery boys” (and girls)!

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LEARNing (cannot be delivered) Ver 02

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…and….ONE more:

Susan Lucille Davis gave us her – What Teachers Really Want – a post that every PD Coordinator, Training Manager or EDUboss should take note of (TEACHers, too)!

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All good stuff!

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But, then again…it’s always better to hear the voices of our own TEACHers!

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DIY Professional Development

In ELT and ELL, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Teacher Training on 23/03/2012 at 12:40 pm

In Glasgow yesterday (you might have heard that there’s a wee shindig there this week) there was a lot of talk about teacher professional development.

We had Richard Gresswell telling everyone about how social media is simply one of the best forms of CPD. I have to admit he’s right – I drew the “short straw” and ended up having to sit out Glasgow 2012 to “look after the shop” here in Turkey.

Twitter to the rescue – aided and assisted by the thumbs of Jemma Gardner, who sends us so many tweets that I’m amazed she can pick up so much from the sessions she’s sitting in on. Thx Jemma!

I heard Michael Swan was also rumoured to say (finally) that “too much grammar can be damaging” (and is not very “sexy”, anyways). He recommends that all us teachers do more PD and get “better” at it (rather than simply “doing more” of it).

Totally agree – but wonder if he would be saying these things if “Practical English Usage” or “How English Works” were coming out this month?

There was a lot of chatter about “reflective practice” – with Scott Thornbury telling everyone that it is the most important thing any teacher can do and Josh Round doing a session on putting the “C” and “P” back into CPD. Good lad that Josh!

God, I love twitter and internet access – almost as if I was there!

 

But, I’m going to jump back and focus in on Richard Gresswell’s session in this post (mostly because I also have online access to his PPT and session PDF) – as I got so many tweets on what he was saying.

To be totally honest, Richard was doing a bit of “plug” for the British Council’s “new” CPD Portal – nothing wrong with that (it has some very good stuff)! He also introduced conference participants to the BC’s CPD Frameworka 6-level descriptive model of how teachers “evolve” over their careers:

He also outlined a 4-stage “model” of possible “best practice” CPD opportunities for teachers across the 6 levels:

OK – it did remind me a bit of the US Homeland Security “Threat Levels” – just watch those Level 6 “Terrorists” out there in their “PD bunkers”… – but it was good to see the thinking behind it. Thinking that many schools, colleges and universities just do not seem to do – but let’s come back to this later!

 

Richard also touched on issues such as:

  • What exactly is CPD?
  • Why is CPD so important?
  • Why do so many institutions simply not do enough CPD?

Ahhh, you know me so well…the 3rd of these really caught my attention (check out his PPT above for more detail on the other questions)!

His response to the last of the three questions was really “tagged on” right at the end of the session (wish he had said more – but this actually gave me something to “add” and blog about) – and he noted that CPD frequently does not happen because of MONEY, TIME, DIFFICULTY and CULTURE (internal and external).

To be sure – these things are important. However, they can be overcome when institutions truly value PD (even better, CPD).

The real problem is that all but very few schools, colleges and universities walk their talk  when they say “we put teachers first – they are our most important asset” (every single one of them “says” this). Sadly, many of them still pay “lip-service” to the idea that we have to invest in our teachers. They just don’t seem to get that making broad “motherhood statements” about what you say you believe is not the same as actually believing it – and doing something about it!

Yes, CPD takes time to get rightCPD is difficult…and costs money.

Duh!

 

The teachers of any educational institution are the most critical players in the LEARNing of students and also in student SUCCESS. If institutions were really all about student LEARNing and SUCCESS, they would put both students and teachers at the heart of their decision-making (and budget planning).

Schools (colleges and universities, too) need to GET REAL!

They need to move from “lip-service” to meaningful service – they need to get to know what their teachers need, they need to start providing real opportunities that support the professional learning of their teachers and they need to create the conditions that allow teachers to actively engage in those learning opportunities.

 

Instead of this we still frequently see so-called “PD Strategies” that are based on:

  • Abdication of responsibility for teacher LEARNing to publishing houses (especially in disciplines that are viewed as “cash cows” for textbook producers)
  • One-off (and hit-and-miss) “events” that are frequently viewed as a “waste of time” by teachers themselves
  • “Flavour-of-the-month projects” that by their very nature do little to promote real teacher LEARNing, distract from longer-term, meaningful projects and (to add insult to injury) add to the workload of teachers

What the British Council have done (and Richard outlined in his IATEFL presentation) is a great start. Indeed, and to borrow Josh’s words, it really starts to put the “P” back into CPD – “professional” (Josh’s “P” was actually for “personalized”).

Now, we have to look at getting the “C” in there – “continuous”.

We need to do more!

 

If school and college leaders (really, really) want to get serious about teacher LEARNing – they have to get “informed” about what teachers need:

Teachers do NOT need:

More stand-and-deliver, one-shot workshops that are plucked from an “off-the-shelf” folder of laugh-and-giggle “recipes” and have little relevance to how teachers do business in the classroom!

Teachers need:

  • to be involved in diagnosing and formulating their own LEARNing needs
  • to participate in setting their own LEARNing and professional development goals
  • to be involved in the planning their own LEARNing opportunities
  • to be in control of choosing and implementing appropriate LEARNing strategies
  • to be encouraged to identify meaningful LEARNing resources / materials
  • to be seen as “proactive LEARNers” (rather than “reactive trainees”)
  • to feel that their experience and backgrounds are valued – and that they are respected as a “whole person”
  • to LEARN in a “warm, friendly and informal climate” that provides for flexibility in the LEARNing process
  • guidance and support that maintains their motivation to LEARN and keeps them actively involved in their own LEARNing  
  • to know why they should bother to LEARN something
  • opportunities to solve real-life (and school-based) problems (not be spoon-fed training content)
  • opportunities to discover, critique and create
  • to LEARN-by-doing and engage in active experimentation (and reflection on mistakes and failures)
  • “just-in-time” professional development (not the “just-in-case” variety)
  • training support that is task-oriented and contextualised (rather than the “same-old, same-old” workshops)
  • peer support and group-based activities, as well as individual attention from “trainers” or “mentors” 
  • to know that their needs form the basis of any PD programme and that self-direction is the core principle of these programmes
  • to share responsibility for and take ownership of monitoring the progress of the LEARNing experience
  • to be involved in evaluating LEARNing outcomes and measuring their success
  • to experience a sense of progress towards their goals – and a sense of real LEARNing and growth as professionals

Dream much, Tony? 

 

Come on – it’s a set of thunks…a start! But, there’s also the option of doing it for ourselves – till then!

 

As a “stop-gap” – I would like to offer a 12-step plan for teachers that might want to thunk a wee bit more about “taking back” control of their own PD.

… a DIY-plan for doing our own Professional Development: 

STEP 1 – Read, learn and discuss more about “professional development” and the things educators are talking about – and what they “mean” for your LEARNers and your LEARNing-and-TEACHing context!

STEP 2 – Be the change you want to see in education! (nuff said – who is going to disagree with Gandhi)!

STEP 3 – Begin with the end in mind (Go on – click on it – dare you)!

STEP 4 – Just do it!

STEP 5 – Start small, begin slowly and focus on doing a few things “differently” and “well” (Rome was not built in a day…)!

STEP 6 – Know that for real improvement in LEARNing and TEACHing, we need to build in a “curriculum perspective” into our planning (what do they say – “a lack of planning is almost as bad as planning to fail”)!

STEP 7 – Remember that for real change in LEARNing and TEACHing, we need to build in an “assessment perspective” into our planning (after all, we all know that if it ain’t “tested”, it don’t get done)!

STEP 8 – Use technology – and, network, network, network (it’s never been easier)! But always remember LEARNing is not about the hardware, the software, or the webware…it’s the “headware”, dummy!

STEP 9 – Review, evaluate and upgrade – Microsoft does not still “control” the world because it always gets-it-right-first-time (actually, it hardly ever does), it does well because it learns from our frustrations and pumps out upgrades faster than you can say “where’s my credit card”!

STEP 10 – Remember “best practice” is seldom ever enough – it is, more often than not, about somebody else’s solution to somebody else’s problem. Surely, it’s better to heed what Covey tells us about the “end” and “bearing it in mind” – and look for “Next Practice” for ourselves!

STEP 11 – Know thy learners, their needs and their current “headware” (you never know – you may not have to “teach” as much as you thought)!

STEP 12 – Damn! Why can you never think of a 12th Step – when you need one! Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference

 

Tom Peters once said that the ultimate aim of any leader was to “create an awesome place to work” – he also said a “key” to this was to “train, train, train”!

Smart guy, that Peters bloke! I wonder how many of our educational leaders might want to read more of what he says…and “do” something about it?

 

POSTSCRIPT

This post, so I am told by those lovely happiness engineers at WordPress is NUMBER

That’s a lot of words – thank you ALL for taking the time to drop in and have a read!

Getting Classroom Observation “RIGHT”…

In Classroom Teaching, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 18/11/2011 at 7:25 pm

So, you have decided to “build” a classroom observation cycle – or perhaps upgrade the one you currently use.

GR8!

 

You’ve probably listed a number of the areas that will require most of your attention:

  • Components of the observation cycle
  • Methods to record the data collected from classroom visits (and forms)
  • Systems or processes to analyse the data, provide feedback to teachers and record action plan steps
  • Training for the “observers” (and “observees” perhaps)
  • Plans for the type of observation schedule you need to set up

If you are “savvy” you have also probably also thought about:

  • Resources (“human” and “leadership support”) to help you get the project off the ground and see it through
  • Ways to get the teaching staff “involved” in the wider development process
  • Communication systems to keep people informed of developments
  • Agreeing the “ground rules” covering the whole observation process
  • Getting all this down on paper or in a “handbook” (in case you “die” before you finish the project – Allah Korusun)!

Lots of people will tell you that this “checklist” is the best way to prepare the foundation for an effective classroom observation process – but is it?

Is planningeven planning that involves teachers themselvesenough?

 

It’s true – classroom observation is a great means-to-an-end.

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Classroom observation can and does help institutions:

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  • Uncover (and describe, when required) how teachers “do the business” of LEARNing and TEACHing at the chalkface.
  • Identify (and hopefully tackle) any challenges that the organisation may be facing with its LEARNing and TEACHing strategies.
  • Look into any LEARNing “imbalances” that may have become evident – within or between the various “classes” or “sections” the instıtution uses to “group” students.
  • Make decisions about “probation” or “renewal” of its TEACHing staff – perhaps as part of a wide “performance management system”.
  • Improve the “quality” of classroom TEACHing – and hopefully, as a consequence, the “quality” of student LEARNing.
  • Plan, implement and evaluate various improvement and training initiatives.
  • Provide teachers with “input” and, it one would hope, information that that help them “see” things that they might have “missed” about their own classroom behavior and ability-set – and help them reflect.
  • Evaluate the success (or otherwise) of major “investments” across the organisation (e.g. in EdTech or new facilities).

The list goes on, and on…

 

The problem is – of coursesome of these scare the HELL out of many teachers!

Some teachers, fortunately not too many, even dispute whether institutions have the “right” to look into some of these areas (this is much more common in “higher” education).

This is because peopleand by people, I mean teachers – tend to look at classroom observation as do “Sith Lords”. No, that does not mean all teachers are “evil” – it means that the issue of classroom observation is very often seen in terms of “black-or-white” or an “either/or” mentality:

This is not entirely teachers’ fault – this obsession with “weighing” and the inability to see “shades-of-grey” is how many educational institutions operate. The fact is that these things do not have to be mutually exclusive – why can we not have “reflection” and “accountability” together?

Why can we not have “combos”?

 

OK (and brace yourself) – now, I’m going to talk about something that I vowed never to repeat a few days back!

But, this awful notion has lodged itself in my brain and I cannot shake it. The notion is that of “pig-weighing”!

Tony Thornley uses this phrase in his article “Make it outstanding” – he apologises for using it, too. He notes that it has become a very common term term in the UK (and hints that it may have more to do with Ofsted school “inspections” than how heads or the inspectors themselves think – I would bloody hope so)!

Pig-weighing (I can’t believe I have repeated it twice) is basically “lesson observation” – and Tony tells us that British schools have got very good at in recent years.

He goes on to tell us that that many schools (he calls them “pig-weighing schools”) have got it all wrong with with lesson observation – in their rush to “weigh their pigs” (and prove they are not “failing schools”) they have developed observation processes that focus only on the more obvious features of teaching, like lesson objectives, three part lessons, behaviour management and so on.

Some of these things could be the result of “over-attention” to many of the planning questions I asked at the very start of this post – I told you planning is not enough…

Tony redeems himself (for using that horrible phrase) by suggesting that these schools really need to ask themselves a few questions:

  • Are we weighing the right things?
  • Is all the weighing really necessary?
  • Are our weighings consistent?
  • And finally, having done the weighing, what do we do about the poor pig’s diet if it seems to be lacking?

 

Now, I gave this example – not because I want you to have nightmares about the notion of “pig-weighing” (I promise I will not repeat the phrase again – ever) – but because I think that many teachers (who look upon observation in a “negative light”) do so because they believe this is exactly what their institutions are trying to do to them.

It is, as ever, a question of “trust” that is at the heart of this problem in many schools, colleges and universities.

Now, I cannot speak to the motivations of institutions – but if you are planning to introduce classroom observations with these types of motives…

…STOP NOW and GET OUT of education!

 

The other issue, of course, is that although classroom observation is such a good means-to-an-end, many institutions do not begin-with-the-end-in-mind – with regards allthingsobservation. 

The majority of institutions do not begin where observation really starts-and-ends – the TEACHer!

OK – I’m not going to get into all the research about the pragmatic, methodological or epistemological debates (as much as I would “love” to – not) related to classroom observation.

Just take my word for itlook at the picture of me at the bottom of the page – you could buy a second-hand car from that “face”, could you not? 

Classroom observation (even in higher education), properly conceptualised, designed and implemented can be one of the most powerful tools available to educational institutions to improve both student and teacher LEARNing.

It’s as simple as that!

 

There are, however, a number of starting points – the most important of which is grounded on a critical question (you know how I love my questions):

 

 

And, to get to this question we really have to consider a number of other questions:

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What all of these questions come down to is – PURPOSE.

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But, you already knew that – yes?

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  • Why do you want a classroom observation cycle?
  • What do you want classroom observation to “do” – for student and teacher LEARNing?
  • What are your underlying assumptions about what is “doable” – “learnable” – “observable”?

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Answer these questions, involve your teachersthen get to work on the “action plan“!

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CLASSROOM OBSERVATION – What Works, What Matters?

In Classroom Teaching, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Teacher Training on 10/11/2011 at 11:24 am

I was flicking through web pages this morning and stumbled across a page from “Grand View University” (in Des Moines, Iowa) – I had never heard of the place but its name caught my attention. On closer inspection, I discovered that it is very proud of its state-of-the-art LEARNing spaces – its Rasmussen Centre for Community Advancement Professions was runner-up in the “Smartest Building in America Challenge”.

Actually, I liked what I saw (or what I was told) about GVU – many of the things they do “hit home” for me.

 

Then, I came across a “section” showcasing what GVU offers its Education undergraduates – one of these was an “observation classroom”. This seemed to have two sections – divided by “glass” (or a “mirror” – I could be wrong) that allowed teachers-in-training to look in on more experienced teachers while they are “doing their business” with students (and visa-versa).

Now, you see where they get the name of university from…

 

I’ll be honest – it freaked me out a bit.

I know my feelings are totally “irrational” – of course, we more experienced educators should share our knowledge, skills and abilities with younger, less experienced teachers. This is how we ensure “survival of the species”…But I couldn’t help feeling that this was not the “smartest” of LEARNing spacesand it conjured up feelings of:

I’m sure that no one at GVU had this purpose in mind when it created the “observation classroom” (unlike some of the schools I have seem – cameras in every classroom working 24/7) – but, let’s be honest…many teachers jump into “big brother” thinking mode as soon as classroom observation is mentioned.

Where do these feelings come from? Why do so many of us start to get sweaty palms and feel the blood drain from our faces when “that time” comes around?

 

In an earlier post, I talked about how I dreaded observations as a young teacher – mostly because of the dumb requirements many institutions have for “formal lesson plans”. However, I also noted that I did learn quite a lot from watching more experienced teachers (and LEARNing from their strengths as well as their weaknesses) – and I also learned a great deal whenever I had a “skilled” observer.

I also remember when I was first called upon to observe the classes of other teachers – initially as a “quality control” process, later as a “developmental” process (funny how the QC version is always first – while the PD version is often the afterthought in many institutions). Many of my first attempts were “lousy” – I was frequently “judgmental”, jumped in with both feet and told observees what “I” would do (before even listening to what they had to say) and even wrote inappropriate comments on feedback sheets.

If I ever did this to one of you out there reading – I am sorry! And, feel free to request a “re-match”. I am much better now – honest!

I do not want to pass-the-buckOK, maybe just a bit! I was never really given much training, and frequently all the guidance I got was a “checklist” – but I was young and guessed this is how it works!

 

It took me years to develop my own observation “reflective savvy” – savvy I had to develop mostly by “trial-and-error” initially. But, then I was fortunate enough to be invited to “observe” somebody else being an “observer” – and was lucky enough for a fair few “observees” to be kind enough to allow me to LEARN with themone of the best LEARNing experiences I have ever had!

But, I also realized that teachers were also given very little information about the purposes of many of the observation cycles – and training about how best to approach the various components of elements of classroom observation. And, even though I may have been an “ignorant novice observer” – some teachers also made my life “hell” (and I think kinda enjoyed watching the blood drain from my face in feedback sessions, too)!

Let’s face it – classroom observation is “tough” for everyone involved.

I’m actually going to “shut up” here (that’s gotta be a “first”) – and invite you to throw in your two cents worth.

Tell us what you think about the above questions or anything else you think “works” or “matters” in classroom observation – no “names” required (so we protect the innocent)!

I’ll try to pull everything together – and do another follow-up post on this soon. Promise…

Teacher LEARNing: What do we NEED and what can we DO for ourselves?

In Educational Leadership, Teacher Training on 30/08/2011 at 11:26 am

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine (Aisha Ertuğrul) did a guest post on Ken Wilson’s Blog.

Initially, it looked as if Aisha (who described herself as “Hungarian/Latvian/Turkish American from New York City” – I’d read anything she wrote just for that) was planning to discuss “snowboarding”. However, on closer inspection you realize that what she was doing was taking on the issue of how little attention is paid to the professional development of teachers – by their schools.

 

Her post was passionate – and she made a couple of very poignant points:

  • The educational “culture” (or “educational literacy”) of a country can have a powerful effect on how individual educational leaders and institutions “see” (or don’t see) professional development – and whether or not they “walk-their-talk” when they say “people (meaning teachers) are our most important asset”! Turkey, like many other countries, does not do too well on that scorecard.
  • The lack of real attention to the professional development of teachers within many institutions (and the lack of meaningful educational leadership) can lead to teachers themselves “switching off” – coming to view professional development as a “waste of time” or something they simply cannot manage to “fit into” their very busy schedules.

 

People who commented on Aisha’s post whole-hearted agreed:

  • The “examocracy mentality” still dominates school life – and undermines efforts to promote real learning in students (and teachers) 
  • School and university leaders do not have a clue what in-service training is 
  • “Flavour-of-the-month projects” that by their very nature do little to promote real teacher learning – distract from longer-term, meaningful projects 
  • Schools building their professional development opportunities around the freebies offered by publishers (“coursebook capitalists”) just end up offering irrelevant, cut n’ paste (or one-shot) workshops 
  • Conferences are a “waste of time” – used more as PR vehicles rather than opportunities for teacher learning


Take a read – it’s all good stuff!

 

When schools say “we put teachers first – they are our most important asset” – they need to mean it! Making broad “motherhood statements” about what you say you believe is not the same as actually believing it – and doing something about it!

Schools (colleges and universities, too) need to GET REAL! They need to move from “lip-service” to meaningful servicethey need to get to know what their teachers need, they need to start providing real opportunities that support the professional learning of their teachers and they need to create the conditions that allow teachers to actively engage in those learning opportunities.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for this, Tony!

 

I know – but forever the optimist, I have to believe that we can make some form of progress or improvement (if not a radical transformation of how we do business in teacher learning and professional development).

A short while ago, I did a post on andragogy – and attempted to summarise many of the “needs” of adult learners. In retrospect, this could have been a list of the needs of teachers – in terms of the approach to professional development that works.

I’ve re-worded it to reflect what might be a good start for educational leaders, if they want to get serious about real learning for teachers:

Teachers do NOT need:

More stand-and-deliver, one-shot workshops that have little relevance to how they do business in the classroom!

Teachers need:

  • to be involved in diagnosing and formulating their own learning needs
  • to participate in setting their own learning and professional development goals
  • to be involved in the planning their own learning opportunities
  • to be in control of choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies
  • to be encouraged to identify meaningful learning resources / materials
  • to be seen as “proactive learners” (rather than “reactive trainees”)
  • to feel that their experience and backgrounds are valued – and that they are respected as a “whole person”
  • to learn in a “warm, friendly and informal climate” that provides for flexibility in the learning process
  • guidance and support that maintains their motivation to learn and keeps them actively involved in their own learning  
  • to know why they should bother to learn something
  • opportunities to solve real-life (and school-based) problems (not be spoon-fed training content)
  • opportunities to discover, critique and create
  • to learn-by-doing and engage in active experimentation (and reflection on mistakes)
  • “just-in-time” professional development (not the “just-in-case” variety)
  • training support that is task-oriented and contextualised (rather than the “same-old, same-old” workshops)
  • peer support and group-based activities, as well as individual attention from trainers 
  • to know that their needs form the basis of any PD programme and that self-direction is the core principle of these programmes
  • to share responsibility for and take ownership of monitoring the progress of the learning experience
  • to be involved in evaluating learning outcomes and measuring their success
  • to experience a sense of progress towards their goals – and a sense of real learning and growth as professionals

Dream much, Tony?

 

Come on – it’s a start. But, there’s also the option of doing it for ourselves – till then!

In another recent post on “making an omelette” (!) I tried to offer a 12-step plan for teachers than might want to think a wee bit more about moving from our “traditional literacies” to the more recent “digital fluencies”.

 

But, when I looked at it again, I realized that it was a DIY-plan for doing our own professional development: 

STEP 1 – Read, learn and discuss more about “professional development” and the things educators are talking about – and what they “mean” for your learners and your learning-and-teaching context!

STEP 2 – Be the change you want to see in education! (nuff said – who is going to disagree with Gandhi)!

STEP 3 – Begin with the end in mind (Go on – click on it – dare you)!

STEP 4 – Just do it!

STEP 5 – Start small, begin slowly and focus on doing a few things “differently” and “well” (Rome was not built in a day…)!

STEP 6 – Know that for real improvement in learning and teaching, we need to build in a “curriculum perspective” into our planning (what do they say – “a lack of planning is almost as bad as planning to fail”)!

STEP 7 – Remember that for real change in learning and teaching, we need to build in an “assessment perspective” into our planning (after all, we all know that if it ain’t “tested”, it don’t get done)!

STEP 8 – Use technology – but remember learning is not about the hardware, the software, or the webware…it’s the “headware”, dummy!

STEP 9 – Review, evaluate and upgrade – Microsoft does not still “control” the world because it always gets-it-right-first-time (actually, it hardly ever does), it does well because it learns from our frustrations and pumps out upgrades faster than you can say “where’s my credit card”!

STEP 10 – Remember “best practice” is seldom ever enough – it is, more often than not, about somebody else’s solution to somebody else’s problem. Surely, it’s better to heed what Covey tells us about the “end” and “bearing it in mind” – and look for “Next Practice” for ourselves!

STEP 11 – Know thy learners, their needs and their current “headware” (you never know – you may not have to “teach” as much as you thought)!

STEP 12 – Damn! Why can you never think of a 12th Step  when you need one! Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference

 

I think the 12-steps work quite nicely for teachers! Afterall, teachers are some of the best professional learners around – and the idea of “NIL ILLEGITIMUS CARBORUNDUM” is something many of us use to survive in less-than-perfect educational climates!

 

 

Tom Peters once said that the ultimate aim of any leader was to “create an awesome place to work” – he also said a “key” to this was to “train, train, train”! Smart guy, that Peters bloke! I wonder how many of our educational leaders might want to read more of what he says…and “do” something about it!