I've been saying for a while now that I'm in charge of my own professional development. I've never waited around for my district or school to develop my pedagogy and practices. In fact, with the very best of intentions, sometimes, just sometimes, district PD can feel like a drive-by shooting. Shoot lots of professional bullets and with crossed fingers hope to hit something good. Regie Routman says it like this in her newest book Literacy Essentials. "Much of what is called professional development in schools today is actually what one principal labeled 'random acts of professional development.'”
Regie counters that description with this statement. "According to research, to be effective and sustainable, professional development must be ongoing, composed of at least thirty to one hundred hours of time over the school year, connected to classroom practice, and geared to fostering collegial collaboration." I wonder how many schools can say that this is their story.
This year, with the wise leadership of my amazing principal and the backing of our leadership team, we're allocating two of our early release afternoons per month to 90 minutes of staff professional development. This excites me to no end.
My ever so smart instructional coach, Dani, and I are drawing wisdom from our experiences with The Idaho Coaching Network as we've thought through a PD arc for the year. The Network is a living and breathing example of how to develop a culture of celebration, collaboration, and learning. Check out some of the favorite strategies we've stolen from them that are essential elements of all our PD this year. (From what I hear, imitation is the highest form of flattery.)
We start with celebration. Always.
We developed Norms together. We focus and reflect on them each time we meet.
Every staff member has an interactive notebook.
We intentionally use and document effective strategies.
So even though each teacher is in charge of his or her professional development, schools have a responsibility to find the time and space to learn together. I'm so thankful to Regie Routman for spelling it out and to The Idaho Coaching Network for providing an example of what this can look like at its very best.