Professional Development

TPD is Teacher Professional Development. This is how policymakers convey broad visions, disseminate critical information, and provide guidance to teachers. TDP should provide teachers with the support they need; engage school leadership; and make use of evaluation to increase its impact. Essential techniques include mentoring, teamwork, observation, reflection and assessment. (page 8 ) Effective TPD addresses the core areas of teaching—content, curriculum, assessment and instruction. (page 2) TPD should also be appropriate to the conditions in teachers’ schools. If teachers will be using ten computers with 60 students (or one computer with 60 students), TPD sessions should reflect this reality. (page 4).

I did find it amusing that the reason for TPD is usually a policymaker. It seems that a policymaker, being a politician, wouldn’t be the wisest choice to be the person in charge of deciding what or how teachers should teach. It seems to me that the person making that choice should be an educator.

Within learner-centered TPD, the voices and actions of teachers themselves, not of the TPD provider, should be the focus, and teachers should engage interactively and collaboratively in activities that reflect their curricula. Like their students, teachers learn by doing—by collaborating with peers, reflecting, planning classroom activities—not by sitting and listening to a facilitator or following along in directed technology instruction. (page 4)

I did agree with the points that the article made about the teacher should learn within the structure or confines of their particular situation. Also, teachers want to be taught in the same high quality ways that students want. Please don’t read me another Power Point presentation! It seems all too often, that the highly-paid presenter isn’t teaching either.

There are three common models of professional development:
1) Standardized TPD The most centralized approach, best used to disseminate information and skills among large teacher populations(page 1)
2) Site-based TPD Intensive learning by groups of teachers in a school or region, promoting profound and long-term changes in instructional methods. Since it addresses locally based needs and reflects local conditions, (Site-based) should be the cornerstone of teacher development across the education system. (page 2)
3) Self-directed TPD Independent learning, sometimes initiated at designed to be “one-size-fits-all”, uni-modal (i.e., lecture-based), and overly theoretical, such that teachers never obtain a working knowledge or practice new content/techniques. (page 2)

All three models of professional development are being used at my school. Teacher evaluations are Standardized TPD. Needs Based Instruction classes are Site Based TPD and mandated and managed through the county. Some teachers are given the freedom to attend conferences paid for with staff development funds if they fill out the paper work and assume some of the cost, mainly travel expenses and lodging.

As an observer of the other “Academic” areas, I would say that the needs of the teachers at my school are largely individual. My school is one of the highest performing schools in the county, so TPD would best be used for extending what is happening in each classroom. Teachers need to return to planning for their students instead of a lock-step, cookie cutter, one curriculum-fits- all method being forced down their throats from the county to make AYP. Fortunately, my school has made AYP. Unfortunately, these decisions are made county-wide instead of site based. Instead of each subject, thus “academic” teacher, being literally on the same page, instead allow each teacher to really meet the needs of their students. This leads to each classroom being learner-based and meeting the learning styles of all students. Give teachers the freedom to plan their lessons again!

Unfortunately, teachers just don’t have time to plan their lessons anymore. They are entrenched in data driven techniques and filling out reports and team meeting logs. The School-Centered model would meet the needs of the most teachers at my school. May I even suggest a TPD session on how to make the paperwork more efficient and simple?

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