Thursday, April 9, 2009

Teachers are the best PD resource

Teacher Magazine April 9, 2009

Putting Teachers in the Driver's Seat

A professional development coach says teachers themselves are the best PD resource.

By Anthony Cody

There is a great deal of research that shows the most powerful forms of professional development create opportunities for teachers to collaborate and reflect on student learning in various ways. Furthermore, we are increasingly expecting teachers not only to teach behind the walls of their classrooms, but also to function as powerful leaders of innovation and change. Fortunately, there are a variety of processes available that provide structures to build these skills.
Collaborative Teacher Research
Under this method, teachers work together to develop questions about their teaching practice that can be probed through a research process. Often teachers implement an innovative practice, and then reflect on how student learning changes as a result. When these lessons are shared at a school site, effective practices can be spread and move the entire community forward.
Critical Friends Group
A Critical Friends Group is described by the National School Reform Faculty as "a professional learning community consisting of approximately 8-12 educators who come together voluntarily at least once a month for about two hours. Group members are committed to improving their practice through collaborative learning." The NSRF Web site offers an extensive bank of resources, including discussion protocols for looking at student work and exploring equity issues.

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