I found this blog post highly engaging, even if it is a bit overly critical for my taste. It lays out the barriers to personalized PD as Control, Compliance, and Permission.
Do you agree? What are the other barriers to Personalized Professional Learning?
I know Tom Whitby very well. He is a critical, albeit thoughtful, educator. I agree with his take here. We need to completely re-evaluate PD.
Ben Wilkoff thanks for sharing this. I have been following Tom for a while, and I’m surprised that this post got past me.
Anyway, the central theme of his argument is around the structure of PD and the difficulty in making change, and I feel it is consistent with my beliefs around why personalizing PD is so difficult in education. The sense of accountability to someone above forces the control and compliance part of delivery of PD, and these are roadblocks.
That said, I have seen a groundswell of teachers advocating for their own learning. Many of us describe ourselves as life-long learners, and thusly have sought out the PD that we need to become better at our craft. The inherent problem there is that this is generally happening in situations removed from the dedicated time and space provided at district and school PD. So, while the rationales for the “why” these roadblocks occur seem pretty logical, I would also add that it is not a model for all PD within schools. Many times I have see teachers and administrators being bold and deliberately trying to craft PD around the interests and needs of educators. I would also agree that there are a good number of educators that lack the digital literacy to access some of the content, this can change if we start to restructure PD in a way that removes some of the risks and perceived threats to confidently make that shift.
Catherine Beck I agree with the statement, that the artifact is quite often intangible. Part of learning is it’s rhizomatic quality. We don’t really know how far reaching some of our learning is. Whether or not it will enhance their own/their students’ learning is not always immediately evident. Other learning is evident and can be demonstrated. Demonstrating PL has an effect on students’ learning will have to be done at some level. I’m okay with that.
Another good post from Tom. Not only are his comments appropriate for the current needs of “21st century PD” but they also bring to light the reality many teachers face when it comes to “personalized” professional development. I’ve been very fortunate to work with principals that are supportive of my professional learning experiences. I have experienced a handful of “sit and get” conferences but also sought out new kinds of learning through various forms of social media, which in-turn led me to professional learning experiences like EduCon and EdCamps. Both of which I have encouraged colleagues to participate in. I am even getting my principal to attend EduCon this year!
I understand self-directed learning, especially through the mindset of a “connected educator”, is not the norm for many teachers that I’ve talked with. I like Tom’s suggestion to avoid using terms like “connected educator” and start using terms like “collaborative learner” because it puts the emphasis on what really matters; learning together.
I’ll reference an article from Educational Leadership published in February 2012 (Linked below) that shares ways students begin learning, and documenting their learning, independently. Many of the examples shared are applicable for teachers because, let’s be honest, teachers and students should share more than just their classroom space. They should be co-learners! One incredibly powerful tool for reflection on learning is a blog. Although this won’t necessarily record “seat time” or give teachers continuing education credits, it will encourage teachers to reflect on their learning and share ways they have applied their thinking in a new or different way. Blogs are incredibly powerful tools for documentation of learning for many reasons.
Check out the article…
Colin Reynolds The article by Will Richardson “Preparing Students to Learn without Teachers” you shared is bold and adventurous. I’m not sure how many teachers would be prepared to push the boundaries of personal learning as he is suggesting. It would certainly take loads of organization and structures for most students to engage choosing their own learning paths. It’s an intriguing idea, though! Anyone know a teacher that teaches this way? If we are going to encourage that, I’d like to see some models of people doing it well.
Glenn Hervieux It starts with teachers being encouraged, supported, and empowered to choose their own learning and then doing the same for their students. It does take time, a strong school culture/system, and [most importantly] teachers that WANT to guide their own learning. It’s time for teachers to break free of “doing what’s always been done”.