Sunday, June 14, 2015

Four things we already know about PD (but need a reminder)

I just finished a week with a fantastic group of educators. Laurie Friedrich, Alison Preston and I ran our fourth iPads in the Classroom workshop. The name of the workshop is inadequate since we had users with all kinds of devices including windows machines, Macs, Chromebooks, smartphones and of course iPads.

The intensive one-week tech workshop is always fun although at the end of each we all experienced the sense of reaching capacity. It also reminds of what we know and often conveniently forget about effective professional development (PD):

1. We need significant time away from the everyday tasks to make significant changes. If you are tinkering with existing structures short workshops can be fine, but if you want a departure from normal you need to take time.

2. We need to work in teams. Shared cognition when learning something new is empowering, supportive and extends the boundaries of what can be accomplished. Even after facilitating numerous PD events (30 presentations and two classes last year) Laurie and I are still learning new things every time.

3. We all need time to practice. Showing isn't enough, everyone must participate in doing and experimenting during the PD. Showing and then sending teachers back is just not enough especially with new technologies that without support can become frustrating and with support are almost trivial.

4. We all need follow-up. That is our next step, making sure teachers have opportunities to discuss and extend what they already know.
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