Informed professionals know the power and imperative of high quality professional learning. None of us would go to a dentist or surgeon who wasn’t well-informed and updated on bleeding edge practice and technique. When schools engage 1:1 programs (or any robust ed tech integration) there is a need to grow and learn within the transformation to ensure student achievement.
Meaningful integration of technologies will shift practice from teacher to student-directed. But this isn’t a turnkey operation. It takes time, retool of practice and understanding of how to get to desired results.
Schools have been ‘doing’ professional development forever. The predominant model has been dictated by contract language ensuring hours of ‘learning’ usually in top-down topics delivered episodically. Some districts are moving beyond this paradigm of doomed learning and growth. Quakertown Schools in PA is one of them.
Two years ago, Quakertown threw the baby out with contractual bathwater (per Tom Murray, their CTO/Cyber Director) regarding teachers’ PD contract language. This movement came in conjunction with Quakertown’s 1:1program. To effectively meet teachers’ professional growth needs, changes to their current protocol were needed. With the new approach, instead of teachers completing a ‘checklist of hours spent in PD, they self-direct their learning within a differentiated, personally-focused roadmap of learning goals. This is done in collaboration with supervising administrators. It is proving to be transformative.
The teachers, at the end of a time interval, are to demonstrate personal progress in their self-identified goals while engaging in consistent progress conversations with supervising administrators. If a teacher is struggling, their union president, Chris Roth – who is on special assignment to the district in the dual roles of union president and professional development coordinator – will work with the teacher and supervisor to map out a game plan of support guiding the teachers’ progress forward.
Most importantly, the district is nurturing large and small professional communities of practice which has created an organic system of constant growth and improvement. They have been a 1:1 district for a while and are gleaning best practices progress across the board around key success implementation factors. They have been recognized as a Project RED Signature District.
You can get more details about this terrific approach in Tom Murray’s blog: http://smartblogs.com/education/2013/02/06/a-plea-professional-development-reform-8-steps-make-happen-tom-murray/
Leslie Wilson; firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-author: Project RED