Monday, September 7, 2009

Professional Development Not For Sale

There is no doubt about it. We are a nation of consumers. We are constantly assaulted with advertisements, telemarketers, and junk mail. (Thank goodness for pop-up blockers!) Everybody wants to sell you something. In fact, there is an entire branch of science devoted to consumer psychology.

Everyone is a potential consumer, including educators. Publishers and professional development services vie for educational dollars with the persistence of crabgrass, overtaking mailboxes with glossy brochures promising to increase student achievement.

I'll admit there was a time when I fell for it. I was always looking for a professional development opportunity that would help me perfect my craft. The Magic Bullet. Now I realize, as Mike Schmoker states in Results Now, the experts are among us. Who knew?

Schmoker goes on to state that "effective team-based learning communities - not workshops- are the very best kind of professional development (p. 109)." These professional learning communities begin to build a new culture of teaching, as teachers realize that knowledge of improvement can and should be generated from within.

So, here's to you... my colleagues. I look forward to working with you and learning from you as we begin another school year. Let's put our heads together and "grow" our own professional learning communities. No crabgrass, please.


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