December 05, 2005

Professional development

Aaron posted a comment about professional development, which I will reply to here. Thanks, Aaron. I haven't thought about this much, to be honest. My feeling about PD is that it is best left to individual initiative. Blogging is a great way to do this: it's social, it's not forced on anyone, the individual can find and create his/her own communities of learning. It's fun! "Gentle leading" sounds nice, except that institutions have their own agendas, one of which is the protection and furtherance of its own survival. In other words, perhaps gentle leading by an institution might be more about the survival (prestige, funding, recruiting new students, fulfilling quotas, etc) of the institution than about the personal growth of the teachers/staff. If that is the case, you can be sure teachers and staff will pick up on it, and this awareness of theirs will affect their motivation to attend PD sessions!

2 comments:

EFL Geek said...

Professional Development is best left to the individual to decide in what way to persue it. Institutions forcing it on teachers only results in resentment from those who don't value it.

I would like to see schools support professional development by offering reimbursement for costs and/or providing time off to attend seminars.

Aaron said...

Marco Polo and EFL GEEK,
My humble apologies for not interacting with your posts...I'm trying to get back into my blog saddle.

Marco: Gentle Leading: I ask and say what I said because I am faced with heading up the PD program of our school. I am sure of our agendas...well I'm sure of mine: 1. I am really convinced that great teachers (who want to continue to be great) can never stop learning. Be it learning to teach with our org, or someone elses. I think, first place, it's about the good of the person. To help them grow and become the developing best they can be.

2. We want to have the best group of teachers we can possibly have. I don't think this is selfish or evil in some way. It's just good business. Our company wants to be on the cutting edge of TESOL, that means we depend on our people. Our people need to be constantly developing to remain on that cutting edge.


I don't see evil with a company wanting to be on the frontlines of its industry - any good company will consider this a basic for survival.

To me, this whole concept of curriculum - which is partly what I mean when I say Gentle Leading, is about thinking "What are the basics our people need to know? What do we want them to know?" My definition of gentle leading falls in there. A guide of what we, as a school, want our people to be really grounded in.

Freedom to learn:
Yes, yes, yes. I strongly agree with you both here. The best PD out there is that which is self directed and self sustained. It's passionate because you are in charge and interested.

But the question remains: If you don't require PD, many teachers simply don't think they have the time or the need to carry it out on their own. The second thing I think of when I say "gentle leading."

Many teachers are swamped with work and just don't pause to think about what they are doing and if it's working, and how to improve, and what is the rest of the world doing etc. I think there needs to be some incentives to encourage us to get into PD - if not we just don't have time.

This year I want to look more into rewarding those who do dive into PD, and I also really want to drive towards self directed endevours. Thanks for helping me think more about this....your comments are more than welcome!