The smell of fall is in the air and with that come the back-to-school traditions: shopping for clothes, shopping for supplies and educators sitting at endless hours of professional staff development.
Traditional PD model: Leave it
In a typical school experience, educators can be certain that as they begin to arrive at their sites, after summer vacation, they will be inundated with hours of presentations on their district’s next new wave of adoptions. While these efforts may be well meaning, it’s the how and what that’s shared that oftentimes bring educators to their knees, begging for these instructional workshops to be over. I can attest to this as after having been a school administrator for 14 years, I too sat through far too many ill-conceived professional development sessions that were clearly irrelevant. Not only that, sadly, I was also an administrator who was obligated to subject my teachers to a series of ineffective professional development trainings. (read more…)
Providing professional development is a fun but challenging job in the world of education. First of all, professional development has been done poorly for so long that it has a bad connotation. Secondly, teachers are very smart and very busy so they are not fooled easily, and they don’t like to have their time wasted.
Over the summer I read a blog post from Kyle Pace about professional development where he talked about three values that made professional development successful: Choice, value and support. As I enter my second year as an e-learning coach where I provide PD on technology integration I have been thinking of ways I can provide those three things to my teachers.
I have created a “Coach’s Menu” through Google Forms in order to provide my teachers with choice and value. I will be using the Concerned Based Adoption Model for support.
A Coach’s Menu is a really simple idea that I got from a literacy coach in my district. (read more…)
In “We Don’t Need No Stink’n Textbooks,” Tom Whitby convincingly argues that textbooks are as obstructive to learning as they are ubiquitous in American classrooms. He suggests that most teachers’ inability to emerge from their comfort zones — of which textbooks are an essential component — hinders them from utilizing the incomparably better resources available throughout the Internet.
Whitby is certainly correct: Textbooks are an obstacle to learning, and teachers rely on them extensively nonetheless. However, moving beyond textbooks requires a more penetrating solution than curating the Internet under the guise of a digital textbook as suggested in the article. The reliance on textbooks runs deeper than habit; it’s a product of intellectual laziness. To truly move beyond these textbooks, teachers must be forced to confront the fundamental question of our craft, which Whitby mentions at the beginning of his article: “What should we teach?”
In other words, we need to elevate the conversation. (read more…)
Educators returning to the classroom this fall are facing many new challenges, including implementation of the Common Core State Standards. There also is a growing demand and higher expectation for educators to connect digitally with students and to differentiate learning for students’ individual needs.
“Everyone returning to school should understand these challenges and prepare to face them in a very robust and bold way,” says Gene R. Carter, a veteran educator and executive director and CEO of ASCD.
Carter in this interview with SmartBrief’s senior education editor Melissa Greenwood discusses the impact of the Common Core State Standards on schools, how technology is changing the classroom, and highlights one issue that he thinks will be a game changer for America’s schools.
Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core State Standards for both mathematics and English language arts. How will the standards impact educators this school year?
The impact for teachers — many who have spent the summer gearing up for implementation of the standards — is that they may have to adjust their activities so that their classroom practice aligns with the standards and with the assessments that they use to determine student progress. (read more…)