A statistic quoted at the start of the year by our Superintendent was this: only 5% of what teachers learn in large PD settings (conferences, workshops) is used practically on their return to school. I'm not sure if that's exactly what he said, but it's the gist of it. As a Design Thinking team responsible for funding PD, this was certainly a concern of ours - since it would appear the money could be put to better use than just sending people away or giving an allowance for them to attend conferences. One of the things I've noticed with students is that "just in time" learning works really well - could this model also be used for teachers? Is it better to learn things in small chunks, then to have the time to practice it, before another small chunk is learned? This changes the role of the person giving the PD into more of a coach or mentor as PD is embedded into teaching practice and time is dedicated every single week to learning and implementing something new.
One of the things our DT group discussed is the need for more "on the job" PD, as opposed to flying off to another city or country for it. In this case, could the PD budget be better spent on employing a couple more people whose job it was to offer such coaching?
Today I started another online course through ASB's Online Academy. This is the second course I've done with the OA and it's a very convenient way of learning - at my own time and at my own pace. Although I have found that I don't often need face-to-face instruction in order to learn, one of the things I have discovered is that I need to feel a sense of community with the other participants who I don't actually see/meet. Some months ago I did a course where I didn't interact at all with any other participant - I didn't enjoy this, but I learned from it so when facilitating the online courses I now run for the IBO I make sure that I get everyone interacting. Having a sense of community is important to developing trust and being able to post and reflect openly on the challenges we face in implementing the PYP in our various schools. At school we also have a cohort of teachers who are working towards a Masters Degree in Leadership. Although most of the course is online, I think it helps that they can interact face-to-face too.
As I reflected recently on the Flat Classroom Conference, one of the great things was learning from each other. We did this using an activity called Web 2 Kung Fu. A similar thing happened at the recent Google Summit that ASB hosted, we did a Google Slam session where members of the audience could stand up and have 2 minutes to share a favourite tip or trick. Another type of PD I participated in at the Google Teacher Academy in London in 2010 was an Unconference day - where we turned up ready to present something and then we voted with our feet as to which session to attend. As I'm now involved in planning for our 1:1 Learning Institute for new teachers next month, I'm also adding in a "speed-geeking" session where teachers will rotate to a choice of 4 different stations over an hour to have a 15 minute introduction to 4 different tools. For us this will be combined with the fact that each of the teachers at the Institute will have to make a presentation on the last day - hopefully these sessions will provide the "just in time" learning they will need to complete their projects.
ASB Un-Plugged 2015 will be a Design Thinking conference. Over the next 18 months, you are likely to read much more about this as I reflect on this blog. At the moment I know very little about Design Thinking, but I'm sure that my understanding of it will grow and develop.