Recently, a fellow elementary Instructional Coach suggested we do a book study over Jim Knight's Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction. Not being one to turn down the opportunity to read a great book or learn something new, I jumped at the opportunity and spent the weekend reading the first chapter.
The biggest takeaway I had from Chapter 1, revolves around the idea of Professional Development, and the ineffectiveness of traditional forms of professional development. Knight says traditional professional development involving a speaker, typically an outsider or stranger, lacks follow-up and doesn't take teacher expertise into account. I have led and attended these type of PD sessions, and agree with Knight, that little change occurs because of these sessions.
So what can be done? Will teachers continue experiencing ineffective "one shot" PD sessions? How can I keep my colleagues, PLN, and conference attendees from experiencing the same frustration and the "this too shall pass" feeling? These were a few questions bouncing around in my head as I continued reading. Jim Knight proceeded to explain that Instructional Coaching, a method to help teachers learn better ways to teach their students, is one efficient model. While Instructional Coaching will impact teachers in my elementary building, as I work in one-on-one partnerships with them to reach goals they set, I can't help but think about our weekly building level professional development sessions. While they are tailored to our staff, they too can be viewed as "one shot" PD.
Throughout chapter one I was reminded of the impact my position as an Instructional Coach can have on teaching and learning at our building, but I don't feel as if I have scratched the surface when it comes to effective Professional Development outside the one-on-one partnership between a teacher and Instructional Coach. I believe I need to continue searching for ideas, like Personalized PD and TeachMeets, and develop ways to incorporate teacher expertise and interests into our building level PD. On a larger scale, I need to reflect upon the type of presentations I do at conferences and institutes, incorporate follow up conversations, and above all remember Knight's comment "Teachers engage in professional development all the time, they just don't do it with professional developers" (pg 3).
How do you see Professional Development changing? Do you feel "one shot" PD sessions should be done away with? What ideas could you have to share regarding effective PD strategies you've utilized or experienced?