I've been following links and jumping from one blog post to another today. Having recently been involved in a one-day in-service for teachers, the first post I read today was by Peter Pappas who was writing about designing effective professional development. I was interested in reading his comments about the importance of teachers having a meaningful role in deciding what PD is offered - in our case we did give teachers the choice of which workshop they could go to - but with the proviso that someone from each grade attended each different workshop so that they could come back later and share their learning when working on their PYP planners. We definitely did include all the teachers in all subject areas - I had foreign language, special needs and PE teachers in my workshop as well as the homeroom teachers. I think it was well focused on the PYP - though I think my session out of all of them was the least focused on the PYP planner as I was exploring how IT can support the entire programme of inquiry. We wrote our own "central idea" for this PD session which was as follows:
Web 2.0 technology allows us to create and collaborate in new ways in order to enhance student learning.
I think that one of the strengths our our in-service day was that each workshop was run by someone at the school and that we felt we had enough expertise "in-house" to do this, we didn't need to get an "expert" in from outside, though with the exception of my workshop all were run by administrators. The afternoon sessions where teachers returned to their grade/subject areas were also facilitated by the administration - I didn't join in with these (not being a member of the administration - actually I'm still unsure quite how I feel about that - I was obviously good enough to give a workshop but not good enough to facilitate the follow up, which I find a bit insulting). I think most of the staff felt that the workshops were extremely useful and relevant and they were given the opportunity to complete an on-line survey with their comments and recommendations for the future.
The final comments in Peter Pappas' blog really got to the heart of the matter I felt as he discussed reciprocal accountability:
If administration is holding teachers accountable for student performance, then administration is accountable to engage teachers in the design and implementation of meaningful PD. Likewise, if teachers have an active role in shaping their professional learning environment, then administrators should expect to see the strategies utilized in the classroom, followed by an honest appraisal of what's working.
However, the purpose of this blog post was not really to reflect on the recent in-service, interesting though this topic is. The real reason for writing to was talk about how reading this excellent blog post led me to look at other blog posts by the same person, which led me to his taxonomy of reflection.
In several earlier blog posts I have written about Bloom's Digital Taxonomy. Peter Pappas has taken this one stage further and applied it to reflection and critical thinking for students, teachers and principals and this great post led me onto the reflective teacher post which was what I really wanted to write about today.
The questions that Peter Pappas poses as a result of his Taxonomy on Reflection are very useful for all teachers to ask, and go from lower order questions/reflections such as did the lesson address all the content and was it completed on time, to the higher order questions/reflections such as how could this lesson be modified for different learners (application) what were the results of the approach I used and was it effective (analysis), were the needs of all learners met (evaluation) and finally questions that I am constantly asking myself such as how can I best use my strengths to improve and is there training or networking that would help me to meet my professional goals. For me this was a very thought-provoking article and the questions posed by Peter are the ones I would like asked of me when I am being evaluated as it is only by reflecting on our own practice that we improve as teachers.
Photo Credit: Where there's water, there's life by Garry