Friday, May 13, 2011

Dave Martin on Professional Development

My friend Dave Martin is running for Professional Development Chair in his local. Here is a quick glance at his philosophy around teacher professional development. You can follow Dave on Twitter and check out his blog here.

by Dave Martin

I, David Martin, am currently running for the Red Deer Catholic Local’s PD chair. On the day
the elections opened up, I put my name forward and since then, have been asked questions about
my philosophy around PD, my goals of PD, and other various questions. Here is a simple FAQ
about my ideas around PD.

1) What is your philosophy around PD?

I believe we should be focusing on teacher learning and not about teacher professional
development. Some teachers may only associate PD days with the term professional
development, and therefore actually believe PD is an event, a workshop, or a program, rather
than an ongoing daily part of a job. How then do we make deeper daily learning a reality for
teachers? Replacing the concept of professional development with professional learning is a
good start; understanding that professional learning “in context” is the only learning that changes
classroom instruction is a second step. Also, recent research shows that traditional methods of
presenting classroom innovations to teachers in workshops does not generally result in either
changed classroom practice or improved student learning.

2) How do you plan to implement PD in the local?

The planners of PD need to avoid the “one size fits all” approach and remember different
educators have different expectations. Mandated PD in top-down programs sometimes does
not recognize the differences required by the teachers it is mandated to and thus can destroy the
teachers “will to learn”. Andy Hargreaves said, “Most teacher development initiatives, even the
most innovative ones, neglect the emotion of teaching.” We need to understand that classroom
practices will improve, assessment will change, and more learning will occur if we motivate
instead of mandate.

3) What does PD look like?

I believe that true professional learning could range from formal credentialed post-graduate
courses to simply having a conversation with a colleague over a beverage. Teachers, myself
included, have learned many innovated educational ideas solely from “googling”. Recently, I
read: “Guest speakers with PowerPoint presentations are the norm and informal learning time
is viewed with suspicion. Administrators with board or school improvement plans to implement
may insist that PD opportunities meet the latest “edu-babble” criteria;”

My response: If professional learning is truly personal then it cannot be mandated to anyone by
anyone. I will encourage that PD stays in the hands of the teachers.

Vote Dave Martin for PD chair!

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