Friday, August 13, 2010

experiencing five models of professional development this week

My Experience
This is the first year of professional development that I haven't spent the time sketching pictures (okay, I drew a few pictures) and playing Buzzword Bingo.  I actually enjoyed the professional development  in different formats:

  1. Out-of-Town Consultant
  2. District Office Workshop
  3. Informal Small Group Meeting
  4. Having a Pint (not district-sponsored)
  5. Twitter / PLN (not district-sponsored)

What Worked Best:
I don't think there is a "best" in this case.  The consultants had some great information that they shared and some well-thought-out answers to the questions we asked.  I learned more about multi-syllable words and brain theory than I ever imagined I would.  However, what they had in knowledge they lacked in contextual knowledge.  Parts of their workshops were irrelevant.  The guy from district office was great and the conversations helped shape the shift from traditional to authentic assessment. He was less of an expert than the consultant had been, but he knew the context of our school since he had been the assistant principal a few years back.

On the other hand, our informal conversation this morning about balanced literacy had less expertise (the curriculum specialist is phenomenal, but also humble enough to admit that she doesn't have it all figured out) but a deeper understanding of the needs of our students.  Having a pint was a step closer in the relational, contextual and intimate level.  The conversation was deep and interactive, but there was less diversity of viewpoints. Meanwhile, the Twitter / PLN conversations were both intimate and involved expertise and the diversity of opinion was much higher, but the contextual knowledge of my school was almost non-existent.

I used to pretend that I had all the answers in professional development.  I ripped on workshops, but now I see the need for some short reminders and introductions to new information.  I used to think curriculum specialists were a waste of time, but now I see their role in spurring new conversations. I'm beginning to realize that professional development isn't chained to binary thinking.  There is no either/or solution.

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