Donna DesRoches recently tweeted about it, Matt Townsley blogged about it, Dr. Alec Couros is passionate about it. Learning for teachers that is open, connected, personal. As 21st century educators we are committed to personalizing learning for our students, so why not for ourselves?
Authentic learning is as critical for the adults, yet many districts are still locked into in-service models that pull teachers out of the classroom, leaving the teachers asking – as Matt so eloquently put it – “how can I use THAT in my classroom?”. The shift is happening, yet there may be several barriers that need to be overcome. I’d like to enumerate some of these, and welcome others to add to this list. When we know what stands in our way, we know what we need to address for a personalized professional development approach to be successful.
- We’ve always done it this way. Those that are responsible for “delivering” professional development may not be willing to change the model. Be it job security or simply a fear of change, these folks need to be brought in to the discussion.
- Where will we find the time in our classrooms? When teachers are supported in an action research paradigm, using data to assess, analyze gaps, and develop strategies, the student classroom is also their classroom.
- Staff meetings are filled with administrative discussions.Working together as a community means thinking differently about how school organization time is used. Rather than leaving the school for professional development “classes”, each teacher creates a personalized plan with goals and objectives that are supported through his/her PLN. The communal time can be used to share learnings. Focusing on learning objectives for both staff and students changes the staff meeting conversation from recess duty to student achievement.
- The sites I need to get to are blocked.Using the same safety and security model for our adult learners as our student learners imposes unnecessary restrictions. The realities of our professional responsibilities sets the parameters for young learners’ access. As adults we are expected to select appropriate resources for our own learning. The technology environment should be differentiated for staff and students to provide that freedom.
This beginning prescription can help to focus on the issues necessary to make personalized professional development a reality. What else have you uncovered? What have been the keys to success?