Professional Learning Done Right: Getting Everyone at the Table

Brandy Price Photo

Brandy Price is Field Director with the Los Angeles Urban Teacher Residency program. She is a National Board Certified teacher, a teacher consultant with the National Writing Project, and a community guide for the Redesign Challenge.

Who has sat through a seemingly interminable and irrelevant two-hour professional learning workshop? My guess: All of us. And, how many of us have breathed a heavy sigh of relief when we learned that the weekly “staff development” meeting was canceled?

Status quo issues like this is precisely what is driving the birth of the Redesign Challenge (RDC). The RDC is an online community created so that we can work together to generate ideas on how to improve K-12 education. This first Challenge is looking for your ideas on how to support our professional learning with video.  And, it’s not just blue sky. The best ideas will get support to try them out ideas in schools.

The creation of RDC was inspired by a report by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation entitled, “Teachers Know Best: What Educators Want from Digital Instructional Tools,” and I was inspired by it. When knowledgeable voices unite to tackle challenges in education, the possibilities are endless!

Teachers Know Best: The Most Accurate Title Ever

teachersknowbestcoverIn the Gates’ report, the authors approach the topic from the most logical perspective. If you want to know what works best for teachers and our students, just ask us.

Following this simple axiom, thousands of teachers were surveyed to identify the most effective uses of instructional technology. Here is what the experts (yes, teachers!) identified:

  • Delivering instruction directly to students
  • Diagnosing student learning needs
  • Varying the delivery method of instruction
  • Tailoring the learning experience to meet individual student needs
  • Supporting student collaboration and providing interactive experiences
  • Fostering independent practice of specific skills

Used as a lens through which to make digital curriculum and resource decisions, the report may well indicate a paradigm shift in how education, as a field, goes about approaching big decisions.

To download the full report, click here.

The Void: Where is Teacher Voice?

Education can be an exasperatingly disconnected profession. Professional learning experiences are far too often the product of bureaucratic decision-making rather than authentic learning opportunities based on teacher input. Certainly, the lack of teacher voice in integral decisions around facets of our professional lives is ubiquitous and frustrating.

Crowd sourced communities like RDC provide an opportunity for us to connect, learn from and leverage our respective knowledge and expertise.

Sharing Our Stories of Professional Learning

Indeed, the Redesign Challenge is an opportunity to change the way change happens in K-12 education. In the Redesign Challenge, good ideas surface to the top no matter your position!

What are our ideas for video and professional learning? What are our thoughts on things that have worked and those that have not been as effective? When have we been inspired or empowered by professional learning experiences?

How do we begin to answer these questions? Let’s go back to the title of the subject report: Teachers Know Best. Now it’s time for all of us experts to share our ideas on how to improve professional learning opportunities!

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