Just came back from another wonderful 3-day professional learning conference with the instructional coaches, instructional mentors, regional mentor coordinators, school-based administrators, and other school leaders who participated in our PIIC statewide professional development. Wow! The sharing, collective wisdom, and learning from the group was amazing… where else can you get 160+ educators in an environment that honors teacher voice, choice, and expertise with the only goal being to share your learning???
A hot topic of conversation was the reauthorization of the ESSA act and its improved definition of professional development. The definition says that the professional development must be “sustained, (not stand-alone, 1-day, and short-term workshops), intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, classroom focused... .” This is exactly how instructional coaches support and maintain differentiated teacher professional development… they are onsite and provide ongoing opportunities for teachers to collaborate in a no-risk environment, sharing and learning together about content that is relevant, tied to teacher practice, data driven, standards based, and student focused.
Highly skilled educators, a.k.a. coaches, who work with their teaching colleagues to exchange ideas, share effective instructional practices, and explore new technologies create an environment that shouts, “Learning is important and everyone can learn!” That learning, however, does not exist in a vacuum nor does it exist as a series of unrelated workshops or sessions where teachers are grouped together like a pick-up basketball game in the playground. No, ongoing learning is effective when teachers and coaches are resolute in their plans to regularly collaborate and strategize about ways to increase student engagement, build teacher capacity, and improve student learning. Learning is effective when it is deliberate, focused, and meaningful.
What are some of the ways you plan to provide ongoing professional development that is differentiated, relevant, and sustainable in 2016?