The evolution of PD

Kellie has a great post on her blog as she contemplates the evolution of PD.

She says:

“A recent a post from coolcatteacher (“Get Past Teaching Apps”) got me thinking about how to approach technology “instruction,” but it’s honestly been something that I’ve been thinking about for awhile. Her post is about what she does with kids in the classroom, but with our upcoming summer technology workshops, I am wondering if we should shift our focus for teachers….

With all the talk of transforming education rather than reforming education, maybe we should use technology workshops as a way to look at “new” methods of instruction based on brain & learning research.”

Please read her whole post – -it is right at the heart of what many of us involved in PD at our schools are thinking. (Me too!)

What started as a mini comment evolved into a full blown blog post, so I'm cross posting my comment to her blog here.

My response to Kellie's questions:

“This is a tough one — I love teaching teachers and covering things that are useful to them like SmartArt in the new Office — they love that. But in addition to smart art — would be a great addition with its graphic organizers.

Also, having them “find” things to do the job after they've gotten a start. I believe in teaching my students how to learn new software and have a book in the final stages on this topic and how I do it in my classroom.

But, it is a struggle with teachers. It needs to be appropriate to the learning style of the teachers there. Here are some things I think teachers should be creating:

1) Use netvibes or igoogle to create a personal learning network on their subject of interest.

2) Have teachers look through their PLN and blog their thoughts on what they've learned in a private Ning set up for the PD needs of your school. This is where they are to share what they've learned.

3) Teach teachers the basics of blogging including the all important embed code and teach them to embed videos into their blog post and share based upon that using teachertube and other tools such as that.

4) Have teachers take photographs and upload them to the Ning. If they have a cell phone, teach them how to do that.

5) Finally, have an assortment of samples and let them pick one for their “project” – it could be voicethread,, etc. but they are to create a lesson plan using the tool and create their sample of how this would look (a demo) — blog it and embed it in their blog and have others evaluate it. (Or, have them share it in another space that they are already familiar with if Ning doesn't work, like the areas built into united streaming or your internal Moodle.)

Once they are connected and sharing — have them listen to a podcast on edtechtalk or k12online and report back to the group.

I think PD should be less about 10 consecutive hours in class wearing out oneself and retaining nothing than about connecting teachers to one another and to the experts in their discipline and getting them comfortable with sharing in online spaces.

I'd rather have a 10 hour commitment with perhaps a 3 hour orientation to the spaces – one hour a week for 4 weeks and then a 3 hour conclusion, sharing, presentation get excited time to discuss how it would work in class.

We need to move PD to become part of our daily and weekly practice — reading our RSS reader, listening to podcasts as we wash dishes — learning from others and sharing what we're doing — PD is evolving and it looks as if you are on the cusp of that sharing — great job!”

I'd like to finish with this, if you want to build Habits of ongoing learning then you need to make PD a habit for everyone from the administrators, teachers, and curriculum directors. Cramming everything into a 10 hour session is the easy answer and the modus operandi but not the way to sustainable transformation.

If we need to change our practice as teachers we also need to change the way that PD is delivered.

How many times can we sit here and listen to the sage on our stage talk about how we aren't to be the sage on the stage any more.

There is a huge double standard in professional development that needs to stop. Conferences, professional development classes and ways we teach teachers need to evolve to match best practices too… is it any wonder why teachers aren't learning?

This is something we struggle with too and I'd love to see more like the work done by Disruptive Innovators (and ongoing pd for librarians), and Open Professional Development by Darren Draper and Robin Ellis and the incredible work done by my friend Dr. Cheri Toledo — she's just plain good to name only a few.

What are the transformational PD courses that you've seen? What are the best practices that truly improve the classroom? Please share.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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loonyhiker May 11, 2008 - 1:50 pm

Great post Vicki! I hope you don’t mind that I plan to use your ideas in my univ. course this summer. I have been kicking around some ideas how to incorporate this in with my actual content and I think you outlined it perfectly for me. Thank you!

Lisa Parisi May 11, 2008 - 1:51 pm

While I agree that PD needs to change, the examples you gave, like Darren and Robin’s online PD, only work for those who are already online and networked. We need to get more teachers networked first. But I find, as I teach my staff, that the biggest problem with getting them networked is -they don’t see the importance. They want cool tools and someone to hand them the learning. Still working on that one.

Helen Otway May 11, 2008 - 2:00 pm

This is great Vicki. It’s funny you post this now as I am preparing my workshop around PD that works, including peer coaching. Teachers, like students, aren’t on the same page at the same time. My best learning has come about by wanting to know more, having a need, seeing the purpose of something and also being in the right head space. For this to happen, time is needed to reflect and time is needed to develop professional dialogue. So here I am, reflecting, learning, and growing as a teacher/coach, in my time with others.

Julie Lindsay May 11, 2008 - 2:10 pm

Vicki, having just 30 minutes ago walked out of a meeting where we started to talk about different PD models for educators this post is timely indeed!
I fully believe PD needs to be embedded in our everyday life as an educator. We need to develop our own learning mdoes and networks that feed our own personal goals as well as the goals of the school and the students.
We also need to have a committment to regular sessions and interactions. Face-to-face is difficult sometimes as teachers rush from class to activity to meeting etc but it can be supported by online learning community structures eg a Ning for extending the conversation and promoting best-practices.
What we are looking at is an embedded style that allows teachers to get together at least once over a 10-day teaching cycle and allows them to have concentrated days where more in-depth workshops can be held. I agree totally with you that we need to move past the sage on the stage model (we know this is a very difficult model when doing practical IT activities with adults who are at different ability levels) but at the same time ‘plenary’ sessions where teachers share what they are doing at all levels of expertise (not just the tech gurus) and invite participation are powerful experiences.
I think I better turn this comment into a blog post ;-)

Jane May 11, 2008 - 2:11 pm

I agree with so many of your points Vicki. Since starting my journey into Web 2.0 by best learning has taken place online. Not in organised PD but in self-motivated PD – the wanting to know more, the wanting to improve skills, the wanting to make my classroom a better place for kids to learn. I am sure I am not alone in the amount of “PD” I do each week. In W.A. our PD requirements may be set out differently but at an unconference I attended 8 days ago I was told that if I documented this online PD it would count towards my requirements. Yes!! At last there is a realisation that face to face may not always be the best way. I know when I work online I am usually “doing” more than I would be at a regular PD session where I have been known to “nod off” at the end of a long day.
It is thanks to people like you Vicki that provide information and assistance to newbies like me.
Thanks you
Jane Lowe

Melissa B. May 11, 2008 - 2:43 pm

Isn’t it funny that we often do a great job teaching students, but that the teaching of the teachers is often mind-numbing, at best?

I attended a technology inservice a while back, where the principal introduced the speakers by saying something about the kids and the “MTV generation,” etc. The presentations that followed involved two middle-aged teachers demonstrating technology that they didn’t know much about themselves. We felt “trapped,” as well as insulted. Using technology for technology’s sake probably isn’t the way to go.

I have nothing against those of us no longer in our 20’s (including moi), but we need to get teachers (of whatever age) who will teach the teachers how technology can be a)useful; b)meaningful, and c)help us make a connection to students.

I told my teenage daughter about the inservice, and she said, “I just hate it when teachers try to be cool but have no idea what they’re doing!” I agree.

Rodd Lucier May 11, 2008 - 5:30 pm

A few ideas about ICT PD:

1] A demo isn’t enough… If you provide training on the use of Web 2.0 tools, attendees should be provided with concurrent access to a computer and a reliable network;

2] One teacher at a school isn’t enough… If a teacher attends PD, I recommend he/she bring along a teaching peer who can collaborate in developing appropriate applications for the skills learned;

3] In teaching purely technical skills, learning on the part of the teacher might not be enough… Each teacher-learner might be encouraged to invite a co-learning student who can act as a resource in bringing new technologies into the classroom.

IMC Guy May 11, 2008 - 2:39 pm

Vicki, great post. I think many of these ideas are excellent. When it comes to PD, one of the things I think administrators have a hard time with is just giving teachers time to learn on their own. Not only do they feel PD has to relate to state standards or district benchmarks, but there always needs to be some sort of accountability. Now, I do believe that there is an end product in many of the things that you wrote about, but it would take administration a long time to verify it. It’s much easier to herd teachers into a classroom or auditorium and simply check off if they attended. I also wonder how administrators feel about giving teachers time to learn something they don’t know about themselves.

Michelle May 12, 2008 - 2:16 am

My PD is shifting from the focus on the tool (e.g., How to Use Spreadsheets or How to Podcast) to helping teachers THINK and TEACH differently. One of my new classes/in-services focuses on teaching writing, and we incorporate blogging and writing podcasting scripts into that class. I am all about getting that “sage on the stage” away from the focal point of the classroom… to the “guide on the side.” I’m really excited about this!!!

Kellie80 May 13, 2008 - 1:39 am

Thanks for posting this. I am trying to get away from that sage method (boy, did that comment hit home!). Thinking about using Chris Lehmann’s Inquiry, Research, Collaboration, Presentation, Reflection model for PD. We’ll see how it works. Always curious to see if what works with kids will work with teachers!

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