Everyday Pro-D vs. Pro-D Every Day

“Certainly there are many models of spaces where kids can learn. From museums to home schooling situations, there are many models that are possible. But when it comes to the formal learning space, I’m starting to think that we are spending huge amounts of energy and dollars in the wrong place. We pump millions of dollars into schools and hope for the trickle down model of success. We support buildings and programs, hoping that teachers will “buy – in.” Of course there are great models of individual PD where teachers are supported on an ongoing basis to change and be successful. But I still think that most of our time, energy and dollars are being spent at the divisional and the school level.”

Remote Access – Replicating Classrooms

Last Thursday I saw a post on Twitter alerting me to more goings on at Karl Fisch’s Fischbowl: it seems Anne Smith’s English class (whom I’d been following whilst she and Karl arranged for “virtual” school board members to participate on ninth grade students’ presentations arguing in favour or against traditionally contested andor banned novels) had arranged to Skype conference with Little Brother author Cory Doctorow (download Little Brother).  I first heard Doctorow’s name a month ago, “lurking” in Ms. Quach’s English 12 Band online discussion board as the class debated several titles, and heard more than a few times of the ferocious conversation Little Brother had sparked in bookclubs that freckled our local suburban coffeehouses (as per the requirements of the assignment!). I passed along Karl’s 140 character message, and later that same day saw that Cindy had set up her students to join the video chat this coming week.

Retweet vb: (within the Twitter community) A social gesture indicating the endorsement of an idea. See: The most Re-Tweeted urls on the Net

I had a post on the go – which morphed into the tutorials post below, but may still somewhere see the light of day – which discussed the inability of school and district based professional development to meet the diverse learning needs of any community of teachers. As I mentioned with relation to Mr. Nabokov, teachers must represent the totality of human diversity to meet education’s democratic ideals, and in this sense a few scattered days across the school year – where oftentimes a sense of obligation creates apathy resulting in, say, a school district changing its Pro-D schedules such that large swaths of teachers wouldn’t be able to slip out at lunch – is a paltry effort to maintain the perpetual and individual development of myriad teacher-learners.

The hair used to stand up on the back of my neck when student-teachers in my PDP module would ask what to do in specific classroom situations – “If a student says…” “When I’m marking a test…” Our job is not one for which one can be prepared through rigorous ‘training,’ and such questions were the mark of future practitioners who would see their diplomas – no doubt in the same light they would see their recent 45′ pro-d session on assessment – as a badge that might somehow mark the terminus of their growth and learning.  This is the same thinking that believes education is about answers and not questions, and that there might be a theoretical ‘finish line’ somewhere that we might cross unto the safety of steady employment, a committed relationship, corporate ascension, or the lofty dreams of retirement. But such thoughts undercut the truth that learning is about questions and uncertainty, neither of which we should seek to end if we are to grow and learn, and which each must be supported more consistantly than once every-other month.

Fittingly, it is Twitter which brings this post full-circle, as the above ‘tweet’ set off a post by Will Richardson entitled, “Continual, Collaborative, On the Job Learning,” which addressed the idea of professional development on an individual, daily basis. Timely, in that our English Department was leaping, at the very moment, into the prospect of a blog to communicate amongst ourselves about all things teacherly (only to be followed shortly after by this effort, as well as Cindy’s), as it seemed the final piece in the ‘Network Puzzle’ of Rss feeds, Twitter, Bookmarks, and Wikis in our classrooms. Speaking for all of us who have discovered this new realm of Pro-D, Cindy  remarked in one of the Dept. blog’s first posts:

“I have learned and reflected upon my practice more intensely and willingly in the last two weeks then I have in the last two years.  I have read fresh research, connected to educators from around the world, had conversations and asked questions.  The more I learn, the more I want to learn. “

Doesn’t sound like your everyday pro-d.

 

4 Comments:

  1. The thing we call Pro-D has changed! In reading this I had to wonder, were it not for this blog, would you ever have put so much thought into these ideas? An extension of this is what Andy Hargreaves said when I saw him recently: ‘Pro-D should be part of your work, not what you do after work.’ Combine these two ideas and you have educators as continual learners… role modelling the excitement and value of learning that we hope to see in all of our students.

  2. I saw that you had ‘tweeted’ that quote, I believe, and thought it related quite closely (enjoyed a half hour of bike conversation yesterday with one of the TALONS twins about Andy’s presentation, as a matter of fact) to this recent cumpulsion toward a more dialogue-based professional learning process.

    The most recent post here about networked teaching begins to explore these ideas as related to teacher-as-learning-model and how to extend the benefits of personal, centralized learning to my classroom. The inspiration inherent this type of on-the-job learning puts front and center the drive to construct knowledge personally and constantly that has previously been on the fringes of our teaching emphasis.

    What the blog does is tied up in the role of writing as a means of learning, whereby thoughts are crystalized, organized and brought to fruition beyond the moment of conception; a record is kept and minute ideas become meaningful threads of philosophy and personal mission statements that find their way into my classroom and my life. ‘Tis good!

    Also: the virus is spreading at Gleneagle, as Andrew Lloyd is poised to enter the blogosphere! We’ve set up some release time next week to ‘set him up.’ Any recommendations?

  3. Lloyd-ie is just the kind of thinker that would, like you, truly add to the blogosphere. You may not know this, but he and I went through teachers ed together and we did every project we could together too.

    My recommendation: stay with Edublogs… lots of options and great support if you need it. If you haven’t connected to Sue Waters (@suewaters) on The Edublogger, http://theedublogger.edublogs.org/ ,then do so!

    I did this a while ago, http://startyourownblog.wikispaces.com/ but it probably needs updating. Maybe you can run Andrew through the sign-up http://startyourownblog.wikispaces.com/Edublogs-Sign-Up and update the wiki for me as you go? (This would actually help me out tremendously with a Pro-D session I’m doing a week from Monday!)

    I’m going to try to come to the in-depth night, but I leave for a week in China on the 12th, so it might be tough to get there. Please tell Kimberley, Ian and the twins that I’ll do my best to drop by.

  4. Our meet-up scheduled for today didn’t work with either of our week’s terribly well, so you may be on your own with the Wikispace document (I will try and poke around at it this weekend though and see if I can offer any revisions), but there is a groundswell at Gleneagle that may yet flourish in the coming year. Too bad you’ll have to watch from afar, but it may be a true-er measure of our web-success!

    I think Andrew is also planning to attend the in-depth night (photocopier conference this morning); could be a reunion in the works! The evening is slightly more informal than the Night of the Notables, so pop-in’s are more easily executed! The kids have done some cool projects and have some amazing stories to tell (Ariana, specifically, got us behind the ‘velvet rope’ at the parliament a few weeks ago!).

    I’ll let the kids know you’re thinking of them, if we don’t see you (I’ve also shared your blog post about your upcoming move with the twins and Kimberley… not sure if Ian was very ‘on’ that day!

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