“Professional development is going to look a lot more like what we envision for our students,” began Dr. Judy Zimny, the Chief Program Development Officer for ASCD.
What if teacher professional development (PD) was formative in nature? I’ve written about that topic before, arguing that the “gotcha” mentality has contributed to the adversarial relationship between teachers and administrators.
If formative teacher evaluations were all about helping struggling teacher get good and good teacher get better, and if teacher professional development were tied to those evaluations, then what would professional development look like?
Teacher training couldn't continue along the same paths as they have. They could no longer be whole-school, one-shot workshops in the library where the guru of the day poured out her/his canned presentation, typically the same presentation s/he delivered at the conference where the principal fell in love with this latest silver-bullet of school reform.
Instead, teacher PD in 2030 will have to be differentiated and on-demand where teachers alone or in small groups find and engage with the professional learning that they think is relevant for their practice.
I can’t stop thinking about all of the PD sessions I ran last year as my school worked through our Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation. This was important work for us. We had been receiving a string on one-year probationary WASC accreditations, living every year under the threat that WASC may withhold our accreditation, leaving our graduated limited to only community college options.
As important as that work was for the school, it was neither relevant nor useful for our cadre of first-year teachers who needed to know where the photocopier was, how to schedule a field trip, how to engage their classes, and even how to simply settle the kids down at the beginning of the day.
A 2030 school would have a road-map of beginner PD for these novices to follow under the tutelage of their school-based mentors.
A 2030 school would have a cornucopia of PD options for its journeyman-level teachers. These teachers would self-organized into professional learning communities for the semester or year and submit a PD plan to their administration, detailing in which areas they plan to grow, how they will do this, and what evidence and products their administrators will see to show that their time was well-spent.
Master teachers in a 2030 school would be the novice mentors and event the PD gurus for their site. These hybrid teacherpreneurs would be compensated for their expertise and time by the school paying for one or two hours of their work day to engage in their independent research on curriculum, and instruction. The pay-off for the school would happen when the teacherpreneur facilitates high-quality PD for the school’s novice and journeymen teachers.
Organizations like ASCD could help. ASCD is wildly popular for their conferences; over 10,000 educators are here in San Francisco this weekend. They are less well known as a provider of in-line PD. In the world of teacher learning, in 2030, ASCD will play a much larger role, providing web-casts and virtual classrooms and collaboration spaces for journeymen teachers to use to implement their PD plans, as well as supporting master teachers in their research and development.
The resources are already here. ASCD could crowd-source their various on-line PD series. Master teacerpreneurs from all over the world could up-load webcasts or host virtual sessions. These teacherpreneurs would be compensated based on the number of discreet views of their products or attendance in their sessions. Teachers would pay a modest fee for an annual subscription to the ASCD Virtual University. Schools in 2030 might purchase site-level subscriptions to support all of their teachers.
Just like the differentiated instruction our best teachers provide for their children, meeting each where s/he is in her/his learning career, our best schools will meet their teachers right where they are in their professional careers, helping each one become even better!