Showing posts with label Job-Embedded Learning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Job-Embedded Learning. Show all posts

Friday, 27 April 2012

Is the PD Day Broken?

A recent article in the National Post, “Is the PD Day Broken?”, posed some interesting questions about how schools help teachers adapt to the future of education. This article made frequent reference to a report by Professor Bill Whelan for the Prince Edward Island Ministry of Education. Whelan was the co-chair of a provincial commission responsible for making recommendations about how the province could modernize its school system.

One of the commission’s 48 recommendations urged schools to “take a long hard look at professional development (PD) days as their effectiveness is questionable at best.” What the commission - as well as many parents and educators - object to is the isolated or random nature of PD days. In many cases, solitary PD days rarely connect to student learning or student improvement. In other cases, PD days focus overly on the latest fad or trend in education.

Whelan and his team concluded that the ideal professional development model “would see teacher training ramped up and built right into the school week.” Whelan adds that collaboration between master teachers with beginning teachers on a weekly basis should be an essential component of professional development. This collaboration would be enhanced if beginning teachers had time to observe the teaching practices of their more experienced colleagues. In his opinion, given the proper support, this type of job-embedded professional development would replace the traditional PD days.

So, what does this discussion about PD days have to do with our ongoing dialogue about personalized learning? Well, as has been observed in previous blog postings, the success of any personalized learning program is directly related to the training and development of teachers. Breaking the hold of the century-old, one-size-fits-all approach to classroom teaching is a monumental task, as it represents a fundamental rethinking of the way schools work. Change of this magnitude requires a systematic and sustained approach.

It is refreshing to hear that educators in other parts of Canada are arriving at this conclusion. More importantly, it lets us know that the innovative work being done here at Greenwood has merit and meaning.

Allan Hardy

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Personalizing Teacher Growth

Personalized learning is an approach to teaching and learning that focuses more on the learner and tailors the what, when, where and how of learning to an individual’s interests and readiness.

At Greenwood College School, we are committed to life-long learning for our students and for our teachers. We have developed a tiered model for teacher growth and appraisal which provides intense support in the first three years of teaching at the school - and then allows greater self-direction from the fourth year on.

Teachers in this latter group are encouraged to personalize their growth in the profession by setting annual learning goals aimed at increasing student learning.

What does this mean?

Well, this year, one teacher has set a goal to see how she can use portfolios in science. She will read about and experiment with different portfolio formats to determine which is most effective for students to collect, reflect on and store their work.

The most important aspect is developing a process for students to reflect on an assignment and set learning goals. The teacher will then use the reflection to personalize instruction based on the student’s goals and readiness.

Another teacher is exploring co-operative learning structures and how to use these to help personalize instruction. Different co-operative learning structures can be used in a classroom based on student readiness. Some students could be exploring new material because they are ready to move ahead, while others are using a structure that has them reviewing different material to develop mastery before they move on.

In this phase of the growth plan, teachers select a peer with whom to share and check in on the process. We are moving toward sharing all teachers’ progress and learning at the end of the year to celebrate their growth. In our weekly professional development sessions on Wednesday mornings, teachers share new ideas or tips on things they have tried.

For example, we have learned how a course calendar can be used to allow students to work ahead, how to upload and mark assignments in Moodle, and how to use cellphones for quizzes to check for understanding.

Jennifer Walcott
Director of Teacher Development