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.
Tom Arnett, Research Fellow at the Christensen Institute speaks about the evolution of professional development. He discusses how districts are beginning to personalize professional development, moving away from the “1.0 version of PD” — PD that is one-size-fits-all and may lack relevancy to all teachers. Good PD provides teachers with the chance to “take what they learned, apply it, get feedback, make adjustments, and improve.”