01 March 2012

Broken Professional Development

I'm sure Amy Mayer @friedtechnology is a highly qualified individual, and I have no doubt I'd learn a lot from her as a Google Apps Certified Trainer, but this attitude is an element of what makes many teachers hate what they understand to be "professional development".

@FriedTechnology: Planning vacation toward end of July. Anybody need staff dev out of state? Could be interesting way to choose destination! #edtech

I can only imagine a multi-purpose room/cafeteria/gym filled with a couple hundred staff assembled by a well-meaning administrator. "We're launching Google Apps this year. I'll be able to train my entire staff all at the same time and we'll be done with it!" Without much (or any) prior knowledge of the school culture, technology in the classroom, or adoption attitudes toward technology, the highly-compensated trainer will go through a presentation of all the great Google Apps bells and whistles. Because a lot of the PD budget has been sent to bring in the trainer, there will not be money/time available for further discussion small group training among individual staff members. The teachers who are motivated and able will be energized and will initiate their own research and begin to plan. Others will hope they pick it up along the way, and some will walk away with nothing, disillusioned by another PD they hope will go away soon.

This money would be much better spent by (with prior planning) developing a cadre of your own Google Apps "experts" in the building/district who will be able to go and deliver more situationally and developmentally appropriate training on Google Apps. This team (who were the ones that would have wound up teaching themselves anyway) are now empowered as leaders in their building that feel the support of their administration as they are commissioned to train their peers. Instead of using extra time to teach themselves and develop their own resources, they now have time to train others and develop/co-teach new lessons with other teachers.

It's really a difference in leadership philosophy. Is your organization looking to build leadership capacity in its members by empowering and nurturing them, or is the goal to lead from the top and assimilate the willing?

Extra note: I have no past, current, or future affiliation with a training session led by Amy Mayer. The tone of her tweet only highlighted thoughts I'd already been mulling over.

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Thanks for sharing!