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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

How would you build a top PD program?

How would you build a top PD program?

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The below is taken, in part, from a post at the Microsoft Educator Network.

Every year, Training Magazine honors the Training Top 125 winners—organizations with the most successful learning and development programs in the world. Missing from the list? School districts.

Districts are the biggest employers—but apparently not the best when it comes to training. Yet every district has plenty of professional development, and every district is focused on teacher effectiveness through the teacher evaluation push. Perhaps the focus is too much on evaluation.

It’s not that we’re not spending money on training to help educators perform better in the classroom; we’re doing it ineffectively.

Much of the investment in the current teacher effectiveness drive in the U.S. is focused on one of three things: 1) Establishing a new system of measuring teachers. 2) Training principals to measure teachers in the new way. 3) Identifying ways of tying the new evaluation to student achievement results. It is rarely on efforts to actually develop teachers.

According to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation study, Targeted Research on Users of iPD: Key Learnings, teachers believe PD is important, yet they “do not believe PD is effective, as it is not part of a coherent plan and does not improve their teaching.”

So, what do the Training Top 125 companies focus on?

“Demonstrable results, progress of programs, innovation, success factors, training strategically linked to business goals, corporate commitment to training, [and] the potential applicability of best practices companywide….”

With this in mind, I think school districts should first focus on three critical areas: 1) Innovation 2) Training strategically linked to district goals, and 3) The application of best practices district wide.

A renewed focus on helping educators meet the needs of their students would help lower teacher attrition, increase knowledge and skills, and elevate the status of the profession.

In education, where 70-80% of budgets are spent on people, this approach should be even more important. It’s the only way we’re going to see the change we want to see in student achievement results.

If you could design a PD program for your school based around the standards of the Top 125 companies in Training Magazine, how would you?


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Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program
Facilitator

One of the reasons I like doing the work I currently do is because it *does* align with those standards- and more. I think the Learning Forward standards for professional learning (http://learningforward.org/standards#.U6iG4aVj7Rc) are probably more relevant to educators because they take into account the unique context and expectations of the work we do.

Also, this:

"Much of the investment in the current teacher effectiveness drive in the U.S. is focused on one of three things: 1) Establishing a new system of measuring teachers. 2) Training principals to measure teachers in the new way. 3) Identifying ways of tying the new evaluation to student achievement results. It is rarely on efforts to actually develop teachers."

Makes me so, so sad. I'm sure it's true and...just sad.

(1)
Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Like Laura, I like the Learning Forward standards. But the base concepts in the Training Magazine one are sound. I'd personally focus less on "innovation" (hello buzzword!) and more on the pieces related to linking training to goals, a strong commitment on the part of the school district to training, and the potential applicability of best practices district-wide. These should all come out of a serious conversation about what the community wants teaching and learning to look like, and then focus efforts around that.

(1)
Alvin Crawford's picture
Alvin Crawford
CEO, Knowledge Delivery Systems

Laura and Dan, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You've both made really good points--and the Learning Forward standards are incredibly valuable. I agree we need to see a bigger commitment from districts on teacher training, linking them to goals. I'd like to see districts equip teachers with the tools to meet the demands of today's classrooms before we simply hold them accountable. When we invest in the knowledge of our teachers, we can truly advance student achievement.

(1)
Alvin Crawford's picture
Alvin Crawford
CEO, Knowledge Delivery Systems

Laura and Dan, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You've both made really good points--and the Learning Forward standards are incredibly valuable. I agree we need to see a bigger commitment from districts on teacher training, linking them to goals. I'd like to see districts equip teachers with the tools to meet the demands of today's classrooms before we simply hold them accountable. When we invest in the knowledge of our teachers, we can truly advance student achievement.

(1)
Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Like Laura, I like the Learning Forward standards. But the base concepts in the Training Magazine one are sound. I'd personally focus less on "innovation" (hello buzzword!) and more on the pieces related to linking training to goals, a strong commitment on the part of the school district to training, and the potential applicability of best practices district-wide. These should all come out of a serious conversation about what the community wants teaching and learning to look like, and then focus efforts around that.

(1)
Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program
Facilitator

One of the reasons I like doing the work I currently do is because it *does* align with those standards- and more. I think the Learning Forward standards for professional learning (http://learningforward.org/standards#.U6iG4aVj7Rc) are probably more relevant to educators because they take into account the unique context and expectations of the work we do.

Also, this:

"Much of the investment in the current teacher effectiveness drive in the U.S. is focused on one of three things: 1) Establishing a new system of measuring teachers. 2) Training principals to measure teachers in the new way. 3) Identifying ways of tying the new evaluation to student achievement results. It is rarely on efforts to actually develop teachers."

Makes me so, so sad. I'm sure it's true and...just sad.

(1)

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