Nancy Dana talks about how traditional forms of professional learning, like “sit and get sessions” don’t make a significant difference for teachers or students. She explains that job embedded professional development, which is learning directly tied to what happens in your classroom everyday, is the most powerful form of professional learning.
In both Saskatoon Public Schools priorities, Literacy for Life and Collegiate Renewal, job embedded professional learning is now the main form of professional learning offered to teachers. While you can still attend professional learning specific to a subject or focus, most professional learning is organized by you or other teachers in your school, and it is focused specifically on how well your students are learning and what you can do to improve your students’ engagement and achievement.
One of the big challenges of this form of professional learning is that it requires us all to be in charge of what we learn and why we learn it. It is no longer enough to sit there and take it all in, now we need to be continually trying things, checking to see how they worked and then adjusting accordingly. That process is the data collection and professional inquiry we keep talking about. The process is just like shifting your classroom to be more student focused – it requires additional skills, focus and a change in role for everyone.
Ultimately, giving you time to focus on improving your students’ learning and engagement is the most powerful professional opportunity you can have. It recognizes and values the professionalism of teachers. And as teachers keep learning how to use feedback loops to inform instruction, it makes a significant difference for our students. Learning how to effectively structure job embedded professional learning takes time and resources, but just like inquiry in the classroom, it makes a bigger difference in the long run even if the process is messy.
Why are so many things broken? In a hilarious talk from the 2006 Gel conference, Seth Godin gives a tour of things poorly designed, the 7 reasons why they are that way, and how to fix them. Can we apply Godin’s thoughts to things that are not working well in education?
According to Conrad Wolfram, mathematics as it is taught in classrooms rarely echoes how it is used in the real word. Wolfram (the driving force behind the Wolfram-Alpha “knowledge engine”) suggests that we consider changing the math teaching model, to teach students to conceptualize problems and use computerized tools to apply solutions, as opposed to spending inordinate amounts of time teaching how to perform calculations “by hand”. He methodically addresses many misperceived ideas behind today’s approach to math education.
The purpose of this resource is to provide ”Just in Time” training through an online interface for K-12 administrators based on the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A). These standards are the basic technology skills every administrator should possess. In the process, administrators will develop their own skills and discover what teachers need in order to meet the NETS for Teachers (NETS-T).
Visit the web site and the Capstone Activities for each NETS-A to gain a better sense of what skills you need to acquire to become an administrator of the 21st Century!