Friday, February 11, 2011

Does Professional Development Happen To Us?: Learning Through Collaboration

(This post is part 2 of a 3 part reflection.  Part I is here.)

Professional Development:  A Delivery Model?
It's Saturday morning.  I got up, poured my cup of coffee, sat down by the french doors where I can see SNOW (of course), and began sifting through the newest professional information available to me.  I read the Big Fresh, browsed through the tweets and links on Twitter, and read a few blogs.  I'm constantly amazed by the learning conversations happening on the web.  I find myself in awe of the amount of knowledge, thinking, and reflecting available at the push of a button.  The fascinating part is how connected all of the conversations are among educators using technology to collaborate around the world.

I marvel at how different this learning is from the professional development I receive at a local level.  Now, first of all, I must say that I see great value in district professional development.  Large districts especially, need to be sure there is a common conversation running through the work educators do with children.  There is value in looking at local data and determining need for professional growth within a district.  However, it occurs to me after reading The Control Shift:  A Grassroots Education Revolution Takes Shape that professional development is often in the same delivery format that is usually associated with schooling.  Someone stands in the front of the room, everyone listens, and then everyone leaves.  This is often a two-way transaction between the speaker and the listener (and sometimes only the speaker).  If we are not careful, professional development happens to us.  But are we changed?  Do we do anything differently?  Do these opportunities result in action?  

In my last post, I talked about January professional growth opportunities I found on the internet.  I found EduCon 2.3 and the Reform Symposium to be powerful learning opportunities.  Not only was I able to choose conversations that met my needs as an educator, I was able to participate and collaborate with other learners.  It is the collaborative nature of these opportunities that stays with me today.

Through Collaborative Professional Development Conversation

  • we rethink our understandings.
  • we gain (and learn to value) the insight of others.
  • we look at multiple sides of a problem.
  • we are pushed to analyze, evaluate, and create.
  • we become flexible in our thinking.
  • we communicate more effectively.
  • we create common dialogues. 
  • we develop "seed" ideas toward more innovative thinking.
  • we envision greater possibility.
  • we pursue purposeful action. 

1 comment:

  1. Cathy, What you say is so true! Thanks for your great thinking as always.