Mr. AB of From the TFA Trenches complains that Unprofessional Development treats teachers like children.
We want to learn like we are in law school or grad school. That means no gimmicks, no games, no group work, and no, absolutely no, teacher-voice. If you could end that sentence with “Boys and girls,” don’t say it. Do not play chimes or a recorder to get my attention, do not make me sing, and do not make me sit on the floor. I teach elementary school, that does not mean I am in it!
Many teachers regard staff development as a waste of time, says an Education Week story about attempts to make teacher training more effective.
Experts know, for instance, that programs focused on the academic content that teachers must cover and on how students think about that content are more effective than those that impart more generic teaching techniques.
They know that longer-lasting professional development tends to produce better results. They also know that such programs work best when they link to teachers’ daily classroom experiences—the tasks their students will have to do, for example, or the texts they will use.
To a lesser degree, researchers also have a hunch that it’s important for teachers to engage in learning sessions collectively—maybe with other teachers from the same department or grade—so that they can meet later to reflect on what they learned.
No area of education is so prone to fads as professional development, but Education Week says some research is now underway to determine which training models leads to better student performance.