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Professional Development as a Building Block

February 11, 2015

 

In my last blog post, I reviewed several lessons that I have learned about integrating technology as an administrator. Today, I would like to revisit Lesson 4, Professional Development:

Lesson 4: Consider implementing opportunities for differentiated professional development to reach the needs of all teachers. Structures such as edcamps, unconferences and flipped professional development can provide teachers with just right and just in time professional development.

After careful reflection, I realized that I should rephrase lesson 4. It should read: Consider opportunities for differentiated professional development to reach the needs of all teachers and administrators. Structures such as edcamps, unconferences and flipped professional development can provide teachers and administrators with just right and just in time professional development implementing.

A colleague sent me a post from Tom Whitby on Twitter that I had missed. Whitby (2015, January 27) posted, “Admins need as much if not more PD than teachers to keep up with all that changes. Do you remember the last time you saw an Admin at a PD session?” Whitby’s post gave me great pause. His sentiment is one that I often hear outside of my district when I attend professional development with educators who do not come from a culture of a true professional learning community.

Whitby is correct in his assertion; administrators should be attending professional development with the teachers that they support. We took a purposeful stance in my district that administrators must be instructional leaders. In order to accomplish this, we need to both afford administrators opportunities to continue learning and expect that, as professionals, they participate fully with teachers.

We have accomplished this in several ways that I offer as suggestions, as you move toward 21st century learning communities:

  • Differentiated and Flipped Professional Development. Create differentiated professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators. These sessions may include after-school drop in sessions, in-district unconferences or edcamps, lunch and learns and flipped professional development. If you are unable to develop flipped professional development for your administrators and educators, there are a variety of online learning options available.
  • Create System to Follow-Up on All Professional Learning. Have administrators attend any professional development that is intended to improve instructional strategies, including technology integration, with the teachers. After the professional development, build follow up activities through school meetings and lunch and learns. Consider having the strategies built into a walk through tool, to determine the effectiveness of the strategy and the degree of implementation.
  • Promote Peer-Peer Learning and Sharing. Survey your administrators for their areas of expertise, and have them present at some of the professional development and/or unconference sessions in the district. Do the same for teachers. Building a culture of sharing and learning from colleagues is a powerful way to demonstrate the importance of collaboration and continuous improvement.
  • Share Best Practices. Highlight and share the best practices in professional learning that you observe in your district. Take pictures, recognize the work at public forums, post accomplishments on Twitter. Build a culture where the expectation is learning for all students, all teachers and all administrators. Build a culture where it is safe to admit that no individual has all the answers, and it is ok to ask for help. The minute we stop learning, is the same minute we become ineffective.

 

References

Whitby, T. [tomwhitby]. (2015, January 27). Admins need as much if not more PD than teachers to keep up with all that changes. Do you remember the last time you saw an Admin at a PD session. #edchat. [tweet] Retrieved from www.twitter.com

 

Photo: "Introduction to Bioinformatics Teacher Workshop" by NWABR is licensed under CC BY 2.0