A few months ago, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach shared an interesting take on the potential future present of teacher professional development.
If I was in the position many educational leaders find themselves today - I would invest in PD that helped my faculty understand how to build sustainable situated communities of practice where teachers learn from each other. I would make sure my teachers knew how to use the emerging technologies to share, connect and collaborate.
Emerging technologies? Yikes. Share? Well, OK. Connect and collaborate? Yep, let’s blog!
A shining beacon in this realm, I think that Dan Meyer's What Can You Do With This? series is one of the best examples of hard-core blogging usefulness (AKA, teacher professional development) that I’ve ever seen.
Thought provoking, collaborative, and "Yodelin' Euclid*, I can't seem to out-think any of these global math geeks."
The premise of Dan's posts is simple. Select a particular piece of media and pose the question to others:
"[As a teacher,] what can you do with this?"
Answers to Dan's simple question have stirred up amazingly powerful discussions of pedagogical rigor and have challenged the brain cells of math (and other) teachers from all around the globe (sixteen separate posts resulting in over two hundred fifty comments/track-backs). Connect and collaborate? Exactly.
Which is why I just don’t get it. Why wouldn't every teacher want to participate in such high-geared collaboration?
Ignorance? Perhaps. Fear? Likely. Fatigue? At times. Apathy? Well…
As one who definitely "sees potential in these blog things for professional development," I think we’d do well as educators to consider this and similarly engaging forms of online learning to challenge teachers in their pursuit of up-to-the-minute professional development. Our teachers need to be challenged, and not just by the kids. By engaging in a little self-directed, peer-provided rigor, I think that instructional practices can improve.
To that end, I ask:
We're in the 21st Century, people. Why can't we (help and) expect all of our teachers to start learning like it?
* Any math-related expletive will work here. My personal favorites include Yodelin' Euclid, Prancin' Pythagoras, and Nit-pickin' Newton.
Image source: Dan Meyer. Used with permission.