Saturday, 31 January 2015

Response to Thinking about Professional Learning - OSSEMOOC

This is my response to a recent blog post from the OSSEMOOC blog.  Lots of opportunity for great discussion here!

Lots of questions here that I would like to answer in the form of a blog post.  You are asking so many important questions that have to do with the reform of our educational system.

When it comes to PD, we need to grow a great deal.

Here is a challenging question:  "Do you think that “Professional Development” creates a culture of learned helplessness? Have we taught educators to wait for someone to teach them?"

To a great extent I believe this is still true.  However, there seems to be a bit of a split between PD offered to teachers and PD offered to administrators.

I am now seeing examples of learning networks being set up to explore questions important to educators.  Teachers are being given, in some situations, the opportunity to set their own learning agenda and work with others to develop and explore new ideas.  I see this especially in math instruction.

It is a good step, but I think we need to go further.  Teachers should be allowed to define and develop their own learning plans.

Here is another good question:  Is this the only PD really needed: “The opportunity to learn where to find something when we need to learn about it”?

I would say it is.  The most valuable PD for teachers is PD directed and monitored by teachers.  Fullan has written about this.  Several of the Ontario Capacity Building series articles focuses on the importance of teacher inquiry.  Here is one example Collaborative Inquiry in Ontario

When it comes to PD for administrators, I don't see any change.  Almost always, our professional development consists of sitting passively while someone talks to us.  There is no inquiry, no action, no learning.  How can we be expected to lead in our schools when the model we are continually exposed to is so antiquated?

There may be some hope.  Christine Waler has outlined an inquiry framework for administrators.  I don't know much about this model, but it really needs to be explored and copied if administrators are going to be involved in active inquiry and discovery.

Are there models for administrators out there?  I hope so, I would love to hear about them!

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