Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home Grown Professional Development

   I used to think Professional Development was "for sale." That is, I used to think it was strictly something you pursued out of district in order to learn from an "expert" about how to improve student learning.

   However, I now realize the most effective Professional Development is "home grown." It is not a commercial product or service, but an opportunity for colleagues to learn from each other, discuss, analyze, etc. within a local learning network. In Results Now, Mike Schmoker states 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.

   This year, the majority of Professional Development in West Clermont has been modeled after such learning communities. As a member of several Professional Learning Networks (PLNs), I have worked with colleagues to examine student data, design instruction aligned with data, learn about technology applications, create common assessments, etc.  We discovered, just like Schmoker said, that the experts are among us!

   Such PLNs can bring about systemic results as teachers collaborate and examine student data, discuss best practices, and share new learning in meaningful ways that impact student learning and instructional practices. As a result, professional development looks differently and feels differently. This is something that cannot be purchased or commercialized.

   Here are a few pictures from our WC "experts" participating in "home-grown" Professional Development.



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