Overdone

Julie Torres Education, Professional Development

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Have you ever felt too professionally developed?  I spent some time talking with teachers
about their professional development and made some interesting
discoveries.  Some of our teachers
are overwhelmed with their structured professional learning, they report having
PD that is not differentiated, random in nature and seldom connected to the personal
teaching goals they set for themselves. 
These are all things that we have either heard teachers say or
unfortunately have experienced ourselves. 
I did hear something that I had not heard before, it seems that there
are now places where teachers are beginning to experience formulated and
scripted PD on a regular basis.  At
first I didn’t think much about this, I suspected that they might be involved
with some type of educational consultants or learning how to use a new
program.  As I listened more
closely I realized that what was being described was a formula for every PD,
consisting of the same components with little deviation or flexibility.  Of course I wanted to hear more about
this type of learning, I was hoping that there was something new in adult
learning that I could incorporate in the professional developments that I
design.

I asked more probing questions hoping to better understand
the design.  What I quickly
realized was that these teachers are spending a lot of time physically moving
and doing versus learning and discovering.  They are sometimes moving information from one piece of
paper to another or actually sitting in a circle taking turns answering the
same question.  Now I know that
there are many different types of “centers” but I have seen centers in
classrooms used as nothing more than busy work.  I made the connection right away to adult centers, lots of
mindless doing and very little learning. 
Cumbersome protocols and graphic organizers seemed to guide the learning
instead of skilled facilitation and content.  Teachers looking busy, busy with tasks that have very little
depth.

We would never ask students to spend time on trivial tasks,
why then do we allow teachers to do it? 
We need the most skillful teachers possible in our classrooms and those
teachers require high quality professional development that is scaffolded,
differentiated and based on the teacher’s goals.  I have heard it said that you can always get something out
of any professional development and I disagree. 

I wonder if in our efforts to be efficient and to increase
engagement we have gone too far. 
Learning structures have their place but when they completely consume
the learning and create distance between the participant and the content, then
they are just busy work.  We as
teachers are busy enough, please stop giving us more to “do” and support us in
deciding what we might need to learn and how we might want to learn it.

 

Julie Torres

Tucson, Arizona

My name is Julie Torres. I wasn’t always sure that I wanted to be a teacher; somewhere along the way I realized that teaching had been knocking at my door for a long time. I became a teacher because it felt natural; I remain a teacher because my students inspire me.

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