ERIC Number: EJ1003256
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Dec
Reference Count: 0
Three Major Sins of Professional Development: How Can We Make It Better?
Varela, Alejandra M.
Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, v78 n4 p17-20 Dec 2012
Teachers often complain about the professional development opportunities. And it is not uncommon for absenteeism to increase among teachers and staff during in-service days. The biggest problem that professional development has encountered is that it is usually developed as an isolated requirement, with no real connection to daily teaching and with almost no teacher input. The present educational system, with its emphasis on accountability, puts enormous pressures on teachers, especially those of English and the Language Arts, to teach fluency, comprehension, and critical-thinking skills as an integrated whole. However, the in-service that most schools provide turns teachers into passive learners. In this format, teachers become novice learners, lectured on "how to do it right" but never shown how new strategies work in action. While it's known that individualized and active learning improve teachers' practice, that has been largely ignored by in-service developers. Thus, the three major sins of modern professional development are: (1) a one-size-fits-all mentality; (2) in-service isolated from daily classroom practices; and (3) a lack of follow-up. Two basic elements must be implemented to begin an effective transformation: (1) Involve teachers in the analysis of data and selection of activities; and (2) School leaders must explain aggregated student data from state and/or benchmark assessments. Professional development must be on-going. Common planning time should be used to examine student data and obtain teachers' input on areas of greatest need. But data alone should not be used to make decisions. Teachers have first-hand knowledge of strategies and programs being implemented and are an invaluable source when planning professional development. In-service days should incorporate cross-curricular models so that teachers can obtain a holistic understanding of what is expected in other grade levels, both below and above. The idea is to work together and stop the isolation in professional development.
Descriptors: Thinking Skills, Educational Opportunities, Active Learning, Novices, Faculty Development, Professional Development, Accountability, Teachers, Classroom Techniques, Instruction, Teaching Methods, Administrators, Classroom Observation Techniques, Inservice Teacher Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
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