Learning forward defines professional development as something that occurs primarily multiple times per week or the equivalent of several hours per week.I can honestly say that this happens with some of our teachers but not all. That is why I think it is imperative that we embed professional learning into the school day. This will eliminate our pockets of excellence and build our overall teacher capacity.
We are looking at moving our professional development days into the school year. In my opinion if our PD is outside of the school year it rarely enters the classroom. I think it is important that we space out our PD days so that we can provide follow up throughout the year. The goal is to have either a 1/2 day or a full day of PD each month.
This setup would provide roughly 40 hours of professional development for teachers throughout the year on top of the 36 hours of PLC time. Teachers during PLC time would create their professional learning goal(s) for the 2014-2015 school year. We would ask that they brainstorm and research what they will learn during the 40 hours. A concern when you allow this much flexibility is how do we hold them accountable? This is simple, we deal with them individually. I believe teachers will run with this concept, but it needs to be well planned on the teacher's part.
This concept allows teachers to individualize for themselves. They will be able to tailor what they want to learn to their needs. It provides choice, and the autonomy needed to grow as professionals. This idea goes against the tradition of how we have provided PD to teachers, and some may struggle with the freedom.
How often have we organized or taken part in PD that doesn't apply to us? I think this could be the beginning of something that is worthwhile and meaningful for our teachers. This is risky, but could have big payoffs!