Awesome group on the left!

Question 1: What are some of the road blocks to professional development?


Inspired by Tweet: "I want to go to a PD that doesn't suck."

My group - all independent schools! Lots of complaints from teachers - "too long" "too short" "passive" "administrator down" "pressure to integrate immediately"

We don't teach each other but we teach kids (pedagogy left by the wayside)

Professional development not funded or encouraged

When you do go, great inspired ideas often are unincorporated because of being unsupported financially and emotionally

"We need to do PD in areas that teachers are actually INTERESTED in learning."

Administration must be leaders!

Beth (presenter) mentioned she often does PD that administrators aren't overjoyed about but teachers demand; "backdoor" PD - what are teachers interested in learning for their own life and then asked how those tools can be used in the classroom

Not everyone has to take the same path - encourage teacher interests

Hard to smash this kind of PD into one day; taking summer stuff back to the school sometimes gets lost in translation

Whose leadership? Teacher Leadership is vital.

What is the best practice for Professional Development?

Meeting w/Department Chairs during lunch; cheap; technology available for teachers; takes different topics and showcases hands on instruction; "Need based"

Small group idea encourages people with similar needs to come together and be targeted

Recording PD in video and audio so teachers can review or preview sources and actually buy in to the new idea

Excited teachers get together to discuss lesson plan integration and encourage and motivate each other (then perhaps present it back)

Don't have enough time - core of best practice - trust teachers as professionals to direct their own PD

Teachers need time to collaborate with each other to discuss ideas

Teachers create Ning Group (NAIS) and creates personal plan and reflects online about their PD; if teachers are self-motivated, this model is very successful

How do you foster teacher investment? It CANNOT come from the administration.

Question 2: What PD strategy worked best for you last year?


Forming special interest groups around topics is vital.

Using elluminate rooms for discussion; groups decide how much training to have; cheerleaders

Summer institute (week long, $100/day) Montclair Kimberley Academy

Misdirected funds and resources stifle PD

What we see in unsuccessful PD is often what we see in unsuccessful classrooms - one way or half-hearted two way communication

How do we model the ideal classroom in PD? Where are our rubrics?

What do we do when we don't have the technology for teachers to experiment with?

Beth has district with "the stuff" and they have to justify constantly the expense and maintenance of their technologies.


Question 2A: How do we keep younger teachers?


It's not necessarily age or newness that is the danger - it's the attitude of embracing change that is the key point to encourage. Creating a culture for failure is vital (and we don't often do it with kids or teachers).

When was the last time that you heard an administrator say in a faculty meeting: "Why do we have a culture resistant to change? How can we overcome it?" The wall is often the issue of results - grades, standardized testing, college admissions results.

Celebrating "noble failure" and encouraging reflection. Celebrating relationships is the vital issue to encouraging teachers - make sure that we are doing "affirmative inquiry" (asking "what's working?") Celebrating resiliency is key and modeling that attitude to students. Creating a sense of community in the workplace - a support system that encourages you is vital. Who encourages you and who criticizes you (unhelpfully)? Peer leaders crops up again and again.

Question 3: How do we "do" PD without anyone thinking it's Professional Development?


People don't come to traditional "professional development" - find teachers who are "experts" in specific areas (glogster, moodle, etc.) and have them do peer demonstrations and ask them to bring 4 friends to the training. Administrators need to have long term plans "expanding the boundaries of teaching and learning" (Reading, Mass model) about gentle baby steps each year. A critical mass of teachers will begin learning tools and using them (bottom up ideas).

So how do we make our PD "subversive" so it's a sneaky back door way to get people to approach learning. Bulletin board - announcing who's doing what? Faculty lunch area - discussion questions as prompts? General emails get deleted; targeted emails with specific ideas or resources (and with follow-up with person) Putting up newsletters in the bathroom stalls (often called "Installments" with ideas and classes.

Buzzwords about "21st century learning" sometimes puts teachers off but playing with hands on gadgets and asking opinions of teachers who would be willing to play with it. Makes teachers the expert and creates hands on, low pressure situations for them to play with technology and creates a different headspace.

Principals with blogs and wikis create inquiries about the technology; modeling is important. Once it's mandated for all administrators to do it, people stop reading and it loses meaning. Some schools have environment that discourages social networking.

Small groups reporting back: Get students to be teachers (student-driven); teachers should be models and give feedback "a technology minute"; "show me what you don't like about insert technology device here." Develop lesson using technology (like a smartboard) and then ask reluctant user teacher to come observe and ask them for advice on how to improve (they might be impressed!). Good professional development cannot happen without their being an element of trust (some people worry about the use of the word "subversive" with that in mind). Trust the outcome and risk-taking will be positive.


Question 4: How do you target the challenging populations?


We didn't get to this question - but the conversation was terrific!!