The Best Professional Development Ever

22 Aug

I heard Dylan Wiliam speak in July at the SREB Networking Conference in Atlanta.

What does detoxified-PD look like for you?

In Embedded Formative Assessment, Wiliam says, “Sharing high-quality questions may be the most significant thing we can do to improve the quality of student learning.”

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Our principals are committed to providing common planning time for teachers, and so our teachers meet in their Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and Advanced Math teams during a common planning block every other day to work through and plan learning opportunities and questions during this time. This time is, of course, valuable.

But the model that has been most helpful to further our learning as teachers is that three years ago, our administrators incorporated a common geometry class for our teachers to teach. We had 4 teachers and about 25 students in the first block geometry class. The teachers team-taught the class, learning together how to implement inquiry-based (and often technology infused) learning opportunities for students; then they had common planning during second block to make adjustments to the lessons before teaching their own classes the rest of the day.

During the second year, Algebra 2 teachers had common planning during first block and then team-taught Algebra 2 during second block. Last year, Algebra 1 teachers team taught first block and then had common planning during second block. Because of some changes in our schedule, we have another team-taught Algebra 1 class this year.

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This model has been so important in giving every teacher confidence in asking questions, using technology for formative assessment, and allowing students opportunities to explore the mathematics. Note that we don’t have any fewer students taking these courses. We haven’t been able to get an extra teacher unit to incorporate the team-taught classes. Instead, it is a bit of a sacrifice for the other sections to have a few more students each, but we find that sacrifice worth the value of the teachers teaching together. As one of our teachers said, “Team teaching is the best professional development experience I have ever had.” (Then he looked at me, his primary professional development provider, and apologized!)

Another teacher is teaching a class for the first time this year, and his first question was whether his planning period could be when the other teacher teaching the class. He wants to be able to learn in her class first before teaching the class his first time. (Due to the small number of sections, we are unable to let them team-teach this class, but his willingness to spend his planning period observing her class emphasizes the culture of learning from each other that has been created by team-teaching.)

Elham Kazemi’s Shadow Con call to action is for us “to make collective learning opportunities happen”.

How are you already doing this?

How can you make this happen in other ways?

And so the journey continues, together …

1 Comment

Posted by on August 22, 2015 in Professional Learning & Pedagogy


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One response to “The Best Professional Development Ever

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