Lessons for the PD Industry

Fellow teachers gave their thoughts on what PD they like best.

My other piece on teacher professional learning is here.

When I say “PD industry” here, I mean those of us who are charged with leading teacher learning, or who have chosen to do so.

  1. Prioritize conversation over your Powerpoint slides.
  2. Proceed from an asset perspective, always. It will be obvious if you are there to “fix” the teachers. Nobody learns well when they feel judged, rightly or not.
  3. Hearts over mind. Make a connection first.
  4. Assume the best of your participants. This one relates to number two. Assume your participants are there to learn along with you.
  5. Learning doesn’t automatically happen in that one or two or six hour chunk of time. Don’t assume your participants will be massively changed by the end of your session. Perhaps they will go for a walk a week later, and finally have a bit of a revelation about the things your were talking about. Perhaps they never will. You don’t have control over the knowledge construction process in others.
  6. Clearly define any and all technical terms or jargon. In many fields, we know we are in the “in” crowd if we can sit in a presentation and understand a sentence like, “use your pre-assessment data to figure out a GAN and use your learner profiles to plan a three part lesson with embedded formative assessment”. This sentence is rather opaque, however, don’t you think? Any and all terms used must be defined clearly, for how they will be used in your work.
  7. Which brings us to number seven: prioritize plain language wherever possible. There are great explainers out there who can explain things like, say, quantum computing, in plain language that can be understood by any who listen. Teaching is a human act, and must be spoken of in plain language.
  8. Lay out clearly any “thou shalts”. These might include directives from boards or Ministries of Education, legal, or policy matters. There should be no ambiguity on these matters.
  9. Strike a balance between knowledge construction and “just telling. You are at the front of the room because you presumably know more about the topic than your participants. There is a time and a place for brainstorming, and a time a place for telling. Sometimes, I need you to just tell me that about that important fact or theory, because you are the one who knows about it.
  10. Have fun. Fun is infectious.