After many conversations with educators and administrators, collaborations with my digital education leadership master’s cohort, a few months of pouring over professional development research, and reflections on my own experiences I can confidently say that most educator professional development opportunities are lacking in one way or another. A few repeated sentiments include: most PD is just not relevant to my classroom, or, I know it’s going to be a waste of my time, or, it’s just filled with a bunch of top-down jargon, how is it best for students? This makes me sad. Professional development should be an opportunity to observe, reflect on, and apply best practices in teaching. Educators should leave a PD session empowered, not deflated. So, how can we make professional development more inspiring and engaging?
To answer this, I began by taking a deeper look at a few of the common issues with professional development. I also looked at ISTE coach standard four indicator “B” which states that coaches must, “Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment” (2016).
After understanding some of the the issues and standards, I had a framework to begin unpacking my triggering question on this topic: What collaborative learning strategies help create effective professional development opportunities?
What’s the Problem?
Collaborative Learning Strategies for Professional Development
In exploring great teaching strategies I relied a bit on my own experiences and a lot on two excellent resources: The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies from the blog Cult of Pedagogy and PBS’s Teaching Strategies Resources menu. I sifted through these resources and choose ones that most closely addressed the issues outlined above. I made an effort to limit the number of strategies that I shared to a few that I have tried personally, as a teacher or as a learner. With that said, I highly recommend checking out these two sites and seeing what more they have to offer!
Bishop, D., Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R., & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State: Project Evaluation Report. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf
Gonzalez, J. (2015, October 15). The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/speaking-listening-techniques/
Moersch, C. (2011). Digital Age Best Practices: Teaching and Learning Refocused. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://digitalis.nwp.org/sites/default/files/files/94/Digital%20Age%20Best%20Practices.pdf
PBS Learning Media (n.d.). Teaching Strategies: Resources for Adult Educators. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://kcts9.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/ketae/