Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Continuous Professional Development

Came across this thought while reading Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School System. It struck me as something worth sharing as so many of us are returning to school. A former New York City administrator was quoted as saying, "Professional development is not an isolated activity, but a daily routine in every school."

The capacity exists within schools to ensure that professional development is a continuous process and not relegated to "special" days on a school calendar. Moreover, control over professional development rests in the hands of each individual. The growth of our global digital infrastructure has enhanced the ability of educators to share experiences across a broad audience of peers and to become engaged in conversations where ideas are openly exchanged. It is in these conversations, both local and global, where professional growth is likely to occur.

There has to be a willingness for educators to see themselves as a source of professional development and be committed towards creating open learning environments. To a certain extent, student expectations should mirror those for professional educators. The dynamic of scholarship is changing. No longer does the top down / single expert in the classroom approach to learning apply (nor did it really ever). We encourage learners to see themselves as sources of information and that individual ideas, research inquiries and conclusions can assist others in the process of making meaning. We encourage students to post their work and develop an understanding that products are submitted for viewing and feedback from an audience that extends beyond a teacher or single classroom.

If we hold students to these expectations the same can be said of educators. It might be said for all professions, but teachers learn by doing. Reflecting on personal and professional success and failure leads to growth. Personal growth can be extended to present the productive friction or inspiration others need to be progressive.

As the year begins, let's make a commitment to nurture an environment where professional growth is continuous and that we rely on one another to help fulfill our potential as educators.