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Collaborative Professional Development

Collaborative Professional Development


In this lesson, students analyze the purpose of collaborative professional development.

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Video Transcription

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Hello there, and welcome. My name is Gino Sangiuliano. And I've always felt that I'm a better educator when I'm collaborating with my colleagues. This lesson is all about the benefits of collaboration in the context of professional development. So let's get started.

So why do teachers need professional development? Have you ever had someone who's not a teacher ask you what you do at PDs? The answer you can give them is simple. Professional development is critical to my ongoing growth. Leaders in the field of education, including John Hattie, Robert Marzano, and Linda Darling Hammond, and others, have shown through the measures of effective teaching project that access to a highly effective teacher is one of the most critical factors in increasing student achievement.

So closer attention is being paid to teacher professional development. And one way to teach-up these teachers is to advocate for them to receive quality professional development and adhere to research that is based on best practice. A movement gaining traction across the country is called collaborative professional development.

You may have heard about or even attended an Edcamp or an unconference. Or perhaps you have taken part in a more formal professional learning community group. These are ways teachers are working collaboratively to take control of their own learning. The beauty of events like these is that they are often planned and developed by groups of teachers with common goals.

Research in the field of adult learning tells us that we are at our best when learning is self-directed and we are given the opportunity to self-reflect on what it is we need and want in terms of our professional growth. It just makes sense to have educators who are in the field create such professional learning opportunities for themselves and their colleagues.

To take this point even further, we know that the research in the area of social learning theory also states that teachers learn best when collaborating with their peers. And that is why in this course we will analyze the connection between collaborative professional development, social learning theory, sociocultural learning theory, and networked learning theory.

Another important point to be made is that situated learning theory suggests that teachers can learn best when their training directly relates to their classroom experience. It sounds so simple because it is. As teachers, we love being in the classroom and anything connected to it, including learning about how to improve our practices.

In many parts of the country, the words teacher evaluation evoke anxiety, anger, stress, controversy, and some other not-so-pleasant feelings. However, for the purposes of this lesson, I would ask that if you harbor any of those feelings, please set them aside and relax as we look at a key element that many evaluation models contain, and that is development of professional growth plans. Furthermore, many schools and districts are allowing, even encouraging, teachers to collaborate on their professional growth plans with teachers of similar interests and areas of desired improvement. This certainly takes the pressure off an individual from having to do it alone. But more importantly, teachers will learn from one another.

I spent two years coaching first year teachers, and I can tell you it was an amazing learning experience for me. The best part was taking new teachers to observe a veteran teacher, and vice versa. The learning that happened through guided discussions after the observations is certainly still with the participants. This type of professional development allows teachers to provide and receive peer feedback.

Like I said, my experience was in the role of a formal instructional coach through a statewide initiative. However, sometimes, it occurs through informal peer-to-peer coaching. As you might expect, coaching is closely connected to social learning theory, sociocultural learning theory, social networking, and networked learning theory.

I feel that we are teaching in an amazing time. Social media has exploded and opened up new social networks for us as teachers to engage in collaborative professional development. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TeacherTube have become go-to resources for engaging in peer-to-peer learning and sharing because they offer a valuable outlet for many who have previously lacked like-minded peers, or who are the only teacher in a certification in their building. A simple search will yield you a weekly chat, no matter what it is that you teach.

So we've come to the summary of this lesson. We began by recapping professional development, with a focus on some collaborative PD options like Edcamps and unconferences. We tie these practices to some very well-known theories, such as social learning theory, sociocultural learning theory, and networked learning theory. We also discussed how many teacher evaluation models have professional development embedded in them, and then brought it back to coaching and some modern ways to collaborate and grow using social media.

And now for today's food for thought. Are you currently using any modern approaches to professional development? Here's a hint. If you're watching this video, the answer is yes. For more information on how you can apply what you learned in this video, check out the additional resources section that accompany this presentation. The additional resources section include links useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource. Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Collaborative Professional Development"

(00:00-00:14) Intro

(00:15-00:58) Why PD

(00:59-01:43) Collaborative PD

(01:44-02:24) More Theories

(02:25-03:07) Teacher Evaluation

(03:08-03:51) Coaching

(03:52-04:24) A Modern Approach

(04:25-05:26) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Teaching & Learning Exploratory

This Michigan School of Education resource offers videos and professional learning for teacher growth and development. It is a recommended resource from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project.

Multiple Measures of Effective Teaching

These Teaching Channel videos are excellent points of entry for professional learning and dialogue.