Providing Professional Development

(Readings post is coming before the weekly reflection because I’m waiting until I’m done with my webinar and I have attended my last webinar!)

We’ve talked about the potential for librarians to lead professional development in a school in the school library management class, and we might have even talked about it in this class before. But it’s something that I really like thinking about as something I could do in my school in order to connect with my teacher peers. We could teach each other a lot. I like that we’re taking the time in this class to think about professional development.

I really liked the Semadeni article “When Teachers Drive Their Learning.” It’s all about allowing educators to choose what sorts of professional development they want and building this sort of ongoing learning into their schedules. This is a great idea! Teachers are so busy that it might be hard for them to fit in the necessary PD; this makes it easier for them to do this. Also, choice is very powerful in getting students engaged with what they are learning, so why not offer this to educators as well? I would think that a librarian could help facilitate this kind of PD because he or she would know of where to find resources for a particular topic that teachers what to learn about, and because he or she would have a strong network to turn to for finding people who might be able to work with teachers on their topics. It’s a very user-centered approach. Good stuff!

Kristin’s article also focused on individualized PD – in this case, an online module that teachers can do as they have time. It was a practice adopted due to cuts in library staffing, but I think it also worked out to let teachers work through the process of learning a tech tool at their own pace. One interesting thing that happened is that some teachers started to work together when they didn’t have an expert to work with. I love the collaboration that this inspired! And I think blogging about the learning experience is great; it provides teachers a way to “write to learn” and reflect on their use of the tool and how they could use it with students.

Lastly, we have the Blowers & Reed article. I really liked this model of PD as well, with both the individual discovery portion that inspired Kristin’s version, and the in-person core competencies courses. The tiered approach is great so that each staff member can get the information that is relevant to him or her instead of everyone learning everything even if they don’t need it. And I think it’s important that those core competencies are learned in a classroom setting as opposed to on one’s own; this way, whoever is leading the PD can make sure that everyone is gaining the necessary knowledge and skills they are there for. The individual approach seems like it would work better with the Web 2.0 tools, especially since I would think that there is more room for creativity in these tools than in the things covered in the core competencies – you don’t want people filling out timecards creatively!

All in all, I think all of these ideas for PD keep the user in mind and make it so that each user gains the necessary and/or desired skills in a way that generally works best for an individual. Of course I’ll need to wait until I’m in my own library to know what sorts of continued learning are needed and how it might best be taught, but I think that these user-centered learning designs can be used in just about any context.

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2 thoughts on “Providing Professional Development

  1. I also think “writing to learn” through reflective blog posts is effective, whether for an in-person class or a digital one like the class in the article. At least for me during this class, blogging has helped me to remember readings better, cemented concepts and ideas discussed in class, and has allowed me to continue on conversations from class with classmates for more insights and surprises. I was just at a focus group where a classmate said that reflection posts are ok for “readings classes” but not for “real work/project classes.” That made me sad and I pushed back on the idea because no matter what you are learning, you are going to get more out of it if you stop with the go-go-go mentality, step back, and really think about what you are taking away from the experience and how it is changing you. It’s good practice for interview questions too!

  2. You both have good points and I somewhat agree that the ‘writing to learn’ practice can help some people reflect and make connection. However I don’t think its as effective if it forced. Some weeks I was really passionate about my blogs because I really had things to say and was interested in what my classmate thought. Other weeks it just felt like busy work and I just wrote whatever came to mind just to get it over with. I think for the most part these blogs have helped me document my understanding of course topics.

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