Our conversation continues the next two days with a discussion about professional development to support teaching practices for deeper learning. Today, we hear from Gary Hoachlander from ConnectEd - The California Center for College and Career Success.
Authentic Professional Development
"Why do I need to know this?" It's a fair question and our students deserve some honest, thoughtful answers. Yet, connecting challenging academics with real-world experience continues to be one of the biggest challenges we face in trying to better engage students in deeper learning and help them better understand how achieving today prepares them for lasting success tomorrow in further education and career.
Part of the problem is that professional development, both pre-service and in-service, does little to build teachers' understanding of how their discipline is used, singularly and in combination with others, to help solve problems and innovate beyond school walls. It's the rare geometry teacher who knows how architects, carpenters, bricklayers, and tile setters use the 3-4-5 triangle in construction technology. How many biology teachers can connect the electronics of the human cardiovascular system to the technology of electrocardiograms and other aspects of cardiology as practiced in contemporary medicine?
At ConnectEd, we're developing "integrated" curriculum and other tools to help academic teachers emphasize real-world applications for the content standards they're accountable for teaching. But we'd be the first to acknowledge that we're a long way from having a well-formulated strategy and the techniques teachers need to make credible and effective connections to real-world practice.
So as we begin this conversation about professional development to promote high quality student work, I hope we will hear from lots of you about how we can do this better. What are the priorities? Do we need specific examples of integrated curriculum, or are frameworks sufficient for teachers to develop their own approaches? Should we concentrate first on discipline-specific strategies (i.e., linking English language arts to agriculture and natural resources), or are multi-disciplinary approaches more useful? What exactly should professional development, especially for existing teachers, look like and why?
If these are not the right questions, tell us what the right ones are. Look forward to hearing from you!