Professional Learning is something that’s been on my mind for a while now and so important as my role at my school continues to evolve. I really believe that there are multiple problems with most PL that we've been involved in throughout our careers. I think the biggest problem we face, however, is that often the PL is not relevant. Or, even if it is relevant, it’s not sustained and therefore becomes ineffective very quickly. Sometimes we even receive PL that is not actually PL and looks more like a department or staff meeting.
Teaching the Teachers
Empowering the teacher technophobe: Kristin Daniels at TEDxBurnsvilleED. (2013, November 06). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/puiNcIFJTCU
So how do we change this? First, we need to identify the players. The above TEDTalk really impacted me because Ms. Daniels' identification of the teacher types was not only spot-on but also very relatable. I’m definitely a “high flyer” which really places me in a minority at my school. Even though we are in the heart of California, surrounded by tech giants, the staff demographic still skews below-average to average in digital skills. This is likely where my plan of attack will focus—working toward my Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) will definitely require intensive PL for staff in the area of digital skills in order to get them in position to carry out my innovation plan. I believe that my administration is open to new ideas and approaches to PL and I hope to be able to influence that process from the ground up.
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As we continue Rethinking Professional Learning, the focus needs to stay on the “why” of the innovation plan and how it connects with our mission and SLOs. It's imperative that we work to elevate our learners’ digital literacy and college/career readiness and one way we can help with that is by implementing ePortfolios. But first our teachers need to be familiar and have their own sites for students to access. This is where the PL comes into play and where we need to flip existing practices and implement alternative methods. After all, we shouldn’t ask our students to do something we wouldn’t (or can't!) do ourselves. The above text, Teaching the Teachers, provides 5 clearly stated principles to follow in order to achieve meaningful and effective PL, which brings us to the next stage in the process: planning. Below you can see a framework for a master schedule I've created—click on the image for a real-time view
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I expect many of the early participants to come in with med-high digital skills and I don’t anticipate much of a learning curve. I could be wrong; I’m basing this assumption off of the fact that the pilot group skews younger coupled with their willingness to voluntarily participate. My hope is that by modeling and coaching, implementing meaningful and sustained learning, and connecting new concepts with previous knowledge, the teachers will really take off and soar. I can see the collaboration beginning between colleagues and then extending between campuses or departments. Wishful thinking? Maybe. But I’m going to stay positive and trust the process!
Empowering the teacher technophobe: Kristin Daniels at TEDxBurnsvilleED. (2013, November 06). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/puiNcIFJTCU Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from http:// www.centerforpubliceducation.org/system/files/2013-176_ProfessionalDevelopment.pdf