Monday, May 7, 2012

Celebrating Professional Development For Teachers, By Teachers

Recently I have been reading some email exchanges where some teachers have been emailing their thoughts about our Learning Team Celebration to all the teachers in the district, as well as all the administrators and the District Leadership Team.  I have had to use the district distribution list, but only on a few occasions to inform teachers about professional development events happening in the district.  I don't think that it is an appropriate place to begin political discussions.

I am going to use my blog to weigh in on the matter.   I don't know how many people read my blog, but I know they come here because they choose to.  I will put it out to twitter, and let people who follow me know that I wrote a blog post in case they wish to take a few minutes and check it out.  I don't expect my employer to provide me with a vehicle to share my opinions with every teacher in the district. 

For those of you not familiar with our district, we use an Action Research model for teacher professional development when we run a learning team.  Teachers can apply to be on a learning team, where they would like to examine some sort of inquiry over the course of a year.  It could be something to do with technology, examining the way they teach math, or something related to assessment practices.  It is something that each teacher chooses for themselves, and it's based on the needs of the teacher and of the kids in front of them on a day to day basis.

Learning Teams meet 6 times a year, and are typically provided release time for 3 of those sessions, matching it with 3 meetings on their own time, usually after school.  I have had the pleasure of working with 8 learning teams this year, with the teachers on these teams focusing on an inquiry around how they are incorporating technology in their practice, and how it impacts student learning.

Every year in may, all the different learning teams gather at Winslow Center in mid may, and put up displays and pamphlets and videos / slide shows based on what they learned that year, and how it made a difference to their students.  There is a buffet, and teachers have a good time networking, exchanging ideas, and gathering new ideas for next year.  The executive members of the Coquitlam Teacher's union and the District Leadership Team and honoring the the work of these teachers.  It is deserving of a celebration.

Under Bill 22, the ministry of education has said they will write our contract to ensure the alignment of professional development with teaching needs.

What will that look like?  Does this mean that the Ministry of Education, they will dictate to teachers what kind of professional development teachers do, and how they do it?  If so, how can they ensure that this meets the needs of individual teachers, who are trying to meet the needs of the students in front of them?  I am in favour of professional development for teachers, by teachers.

I hope to see you at the Learning Team Celebration on May 15th so we can recognize the efforts and achievements of the many great teachers in our district.


Sandra said...

I agree James. It is inappropriate for teachers to use the TD list to get on their soapbox. In fact Brian Kuhn often warns people and they do get a "talking to". Some people keep doing it though.

I support the Learning Celebration and I'm on the CTA exec! It's teacher driven pd! I have been on many a learning team so rock on teachers!!!

Laurelei said...

I was tempted to reply to the emails as well. Why not celebrate? Just because we're in the midst of political turmoil? We've worked hard this year, and it's been more stressful than usual.

It's also a good way of demonstrating that teachers CAN and DO take charge of their ProD and construct something meaningful. It's a great chance to re-connect with teachers from other schools and to see what the other Learning Teams have been working on.

The celebration is the Best Kind of Pro D - talking to other teachers about their teaching and learning.