Then, there are the notes of the TFA Trenches, which Wonks also linked to, that discuss unprofessional development. He opens by wondering if those who can't teach, end up teaching teachers. I hope not. I have not quite lost my faith that much, but I do wonder about the educrats that end up "teaching" teachers at workshops and such. He does post some lessons he would keep in mind if he ever becomes a teacher trainer. I think these are valid lessons, so I will post the list, and go read the post to get his thoughts on each item:
- "Teachers, even when in a learning role, do not cease to be professionals."
- "There is a time and place for “lesson demonstrations:” in front of classes of children, tape-recorded for our professional critique and observation."
- "Be meticulously planned, carefully prepared, and absolutely efficient."
- "Do not take time to write norms."
- "Lastly, do not serve bad food."
Having said this, not all professional development is bad. Thank goodness, there are some professional development opportunities that are worthwhile. My experience is that those opportunities are run by teachers that still practice teaching. One good example is the National Writing Project, that brings teachers of writing at all levels to reflect on their writing and pedagogy, to learn about the latest theories and best practices, and to find time to do their own writing. These workshops usually take place during the summer, and teachers can often get graduate credit depending on their location. When you complete the training, you are certified as a teacher-consultant, and your mission becomes to take what you learned back to your classroom and your colleagues. It is a true model of teachers teaching teachers and a great example of teacher research at work. I am proud to say I went through the National Writing Project. It was a while ago, yet what I learned then has stayed with me not only during my time in schools, but in higher education as well. Do note, that projects like NWP are outside a school district; they are not "hired" educrats. I did have a chance to go out of the school, a summer, share some knowledge and good times with some excellent teachers, and learn a a thing or two. So, there is professional development, and then there is "professional development."