“It’s no longer about individuals making choices about whether they want to grow and learn,” said Ms. Hirsh of the National Staff Development Council.” We have to narrow the scope of what we offer to teachers and use it in a more deliberate way.”
Something is really wrong with staff development in our schools when articles like this continue to flourish….So, how about this scenario? Brainstorm. List strengths and weaknesses of your school. Then proceed with a question, explore, change mindset. It could be as simple as what is working in your school and what is not? What do we need to learn more about so our students will benefit? What are our school needs, what are our personal learning needs? Are we preparing our students for the twenty-first century? Do we need to redefine our definition of literacy? Are we learning and growing or are we just content with the status quo? If we’re just content, what do we need to do to change? It’s about posing questions that are pressing and relevant to learning and your unique school’s needs.
Once a question (or questions) is set that is perceived by the majority to be worthy of answering in depth, the whole school begins to seek knowledge. Blogs could be used to share what you are learning and thinking. Everyone has a stake in the discussion. You could start small in the beginning and ask faculty members to respond to one co-worker’s blog. Then meet and discuss findings. Ask your students for answers to the questions you posed. Share their thinking or better yet, provide blogs for students and get them in on the process. Build your learning community. Have your staff pursue learning based on their own individual needs but have a school-wide focus on identified concerns by a majority of the faculty. Along the way, introduce some helpful tools like Bloglines, Furl, del.icio.us, etc. to help school members manage the information they are exploring. Create a wiki to record ideas and use as a guidepost in making decisions about teaching and learning in your school.
Now this journey might be messy and be a lot of “trial and error” but it’s essential. We educators have to be the change agents and we need to have our voices heard.
So what a strange situation: Staff Development Council people pitting themselves against teachers. Listen to the tone of Ms Hirsch’s statement: the tone of the professional expert telling the little people what is what. Isn’t this the tone of the eternal manager? “Narrowing the scope of what we offer to teachers”. Isn’t this another way of saying controlling them?
We educators have to be the change agents says Anne. How odd that this statement has to be made at all. How else could it be? One might be forgiven for thinking that teachers had been marginalized in the carrying out of their own jobs! Ridiculous, I know, eh? I mean, this is the land of the free, home of the brave.