The following is a guest contribution from James Noonan, Ed.D.
BY: JAMES NOONAN
Ask teachers about professional development (PD) and you are likely to be met with a shrug or a grimace, but as Ann Webster-Wright has argued, there is a revealing gap between teachers’ rhetoric about professional development and their own experiences of authentic and meaningful learning. If pressed, most teachers have important stories to tell about powerful professional learning. My research has focused on what we can learn from these apparently outlying experiences.
Listening to teacher accounts of powerful learning, one thing is immediately clear: the tremendous variation along many dimensions, including format, duration, and content. Powerful learning takes as many shapes as there are teachers willing to share their stories.
High quality PD begins with listening. That’s the first step that Lisa Highfill, Instructional Technology Coach at Pleasanton Unified School District took when she planned PD for her teachers. Lisa captured critical information about her teachers’ needs and interests to help inform the structure and content of her training sessions. Teachers chose how to spend their time as they developed new skills and applied their knowledge alongside their peers. Listen to Lisa discuss how as a PD facilitator, she must not stand in the front of the room and impart knowledge, but rather work collaboratively with her teachers, support them as they actively engage with new content, and continue to listen. Tune in here or read the transcript below: more