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Excuse me, may I come in?

I’ve just spent two hours chatting with my secondary principal about her tech goals and her vision for the school next year (when she will become the superintendent) and we started talking about visions and aims and how we can move staff forward towards these visions and aims. And now, as I sat down to think (with my fingers) I happened to glance at my Netvibes page and noticed Will Richardson’s post of March 14 on Weblogg-Ed titled, “The PD Problem” and the last sentence of the post immediately started to bubble and gurgle in the pot of think that has started to brew after my 120minutes of chat with the principal. He writes (of models for PD delivery to teachers),

“Not that there still wouldn’t be a need for structured professional learning, but that we’d be a lot further down the road, I think, if the culture of teaching moved toward a more open, collaborative, shared enterprise than it is today.”

The first ‘gurgle’ was, “Isn’t that what we want our students to be doing? Isn’t that what we should be modeling and championing in our 21st century classrooms? Aren’t the 21st century skills people (who should be us) using words like ‘open’, ‘shared’, ‘collaborative’ as they talk about learning today?”

The second gurgle was, “Is this the first suggestion of these words I have heard used in relation to teaching?” Having a think about it nothing immediately springs to mind (please correct me if you can) and I ponder that for a second.

I do a lot of talking about learning. Students learning this. Students learning that. Students taking charge of their own learning. Students being stakeholders (oops, buzzword alert!) in their own learning. But what about teaching? Am I focusing on learning so much that the discussion surreptitiously edges ‘teaching’ towards the front door, quietly hands him his coat and ushers him out? I would hate to think this is the case but am beginning to think that there might be someone standing on the porch waiting to be invited back in.

My 19 years experience in schools agrees with Mr Richardson in that professional development models are usually the crossword puzzle type. All the black squares are filled in and three down has seven letters and it starts with K. Put your professional development in there and make sure the last letter is a T because it has to fit with TIMETABLE! Let me be clear, I’m not going to put my hand up and say I have the answer, the blog post I referred to earlier does a much better job of discussing that, but I will say that however we manage to fit students and classes and co-curricular activities and staff meetings and appraisal visits in around our professional development timetable, we should be considering what we want our students to walk away with in what we want our colleagues to walk away with.

But then again, I really enjoyed the Singapore iCTLT Conference where I sat in the audience of 1000+ and was talked to for three days.

Open? Collaborative? Shared?

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