About Thinks

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Teachers in control of their PD

Wouldn't it be cool if teachers could choose their own PD? Instead of BOTs and Senior Management deciding what (or even IF) they would benefit from?

Different teachers could chose different pathways depending on their needs. One teacher could choose to do a tour of all the Educamps, another could choose to blow the majority at uLearn, some could do a combo of MOOCs and smaller skill based stuff through night courses. It would be up to them!

Some may choose to go to a conference to connect with their PLN (as they would get more out of it than going with their school).

Some principals may have compelling arguments for why the staff should all go to a conference (but it would be up to them to make a good enough case for that).

Maybe teachers could 'save' their PD for up to two years to attend an international conference.

There could be a system that rewarded the sharing of ideas, where those who present at conference get PD credits (as opposed to paying full conference fees for the honour). If PD credits were available, this could also lift the quality of presenter.

If (after 2 years?) a teacher had not claimed all their PD could the excess be put into a contestable fund for other teachers to apply for extra PD funding?

I would like to see teachers taking control of learning, budgeting, taking risks, making bad decisions and learning. I would like to see management giving up control, showing teachers what is out there and acting as advisors (as opposed to the 'Santa Claus' role). I would like to see PD organisations marketing to teachers, offering PD credits for presenters, offering discounts for PLN bookings. But ultimately, I would like to see teachers in control of their own PD.

I don't know much about the government's 'PD for teachers' budget. It probably goes into one big school pot and is discretionary, but that doesn't really concern me. We can let the ministry accountants figure that out (much like what Ewan McIntosh said in his ICOT2013 keynote - it's the accountants job to get cheap buttons, it's not the concern of the creative clothes designer).

So I'm going to throw the figure $1000.00 per teacher per year out there (theory still stands ... figure can be adjusted to more or less).



18 comments:

  1. Great idea! At my school, we work in Professional Learning Groups throughout the year. We select these from the school-wide goals. Once in these groups, we choose individual (or small-group) inquiries to research and take risks with throughout the year. Your idea would take this to the next level, allowing more in-depth learning as individuals/groups could choose appropriate PD without always having to apply for it. Love your work!

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    1. Cheers Matt :-) I guess BOTs could do it at a school level but it would be nice to get an unambiguous entitlement for the more isolated teachers. I wonder if the government even has a separate teacher pd budget? Maybe someone out there knows?

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    2. Just been thinking along the same lines myself. First step I am going to tackle is asking fellow teachers to set up PLG's within our school around personal learning goals/interests and then to suggest to the DP that staff can choose to attend a PLG meeting OR the planned (often irrelevant), staff meeting in any given week. I'm especially liking the idea of PD credits. As far as I know schools manage their own PD budgets but talking to some Aussie teachers last week they get tax breaks for personal PD. Never heard of that here but could be worth lobbying for.

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    3. Fantastic Julia - Let us know how it all goes :-)

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  2. Personally I'd be happy with a 80/20 split - 80% going to the teacher and 20% going to a school fund that the principal/senior management can then use for school wide initiatives.

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    1. Yep, that sounds like a good compromise. There will be times where a Principal's vision needs to be met and this would be a good way to ensure this (while at the same time enabling teachers to conduct 'Teaching as Inquiry').

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  3. Schools definitely have control of their own PD budgets so a clear policy needs to be communicated with staff how this is used. I like the idea of having central govt PD credits and more self managed PD. This would also fit well with the RTC and teaching as inquiry model where staff become more responsible for improving their own learning and students while reflecting on the impact they have. I think teachers need to keep a journal/learning log of how they are making changes (using the credits) and present these to peers regularly to share their learning.

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    1. Hi Justine, Yes that would be a good way to ensure accountability and share great (or not so great) experiences. That would keep our PD providers more accountable too. I think it would be awesome to see different ways and pathways that teachers PD themselves.

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  4. Interesting reading and quite relevant. At our school, through Teaching as Inquiry, teachers individual inquiries reflect their learning need and growth. Last year, each teacher had their own inquiry in the area of writing. This year, teachers will be choosing their own area of inquiry and then we (the CLuster of schools) will be tailoring PD to individually match each teacher - very personalised and attributable to current research. So while we (as Leaders) have directed TAI, teachers will be developing their own inquiry, where PD will be aligned to them.

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    1. Thanks Regan, That sounds like a very personalised programe for your teachers where they are able to own their learning and have insights into why and how PD decisions are made. I'm very interested in the 'Teaching as Inquiry' model - I would be really interested in seeing how it works out for you all.

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  5. Hi Tara,

    This is a really interesting post! In the ten years that I've been teaching I have found there is less and less choice in what PD can you do, and less money for it!

    I think it could be slightly dangerous just to let teachers learn what they want to learn as some could not explore some opportunities that would be important to their students or their own development. In a similar way, I wouldn't want my students to only learn what they want to learn.

    Having said that, my most memorable and powerful PD has definitely been the ones I organise myself (conferences overseas, around the state and online) as well as using my PLN as PD.

    Thanks for the food for thought! And thank you for replying to your commenters too. How refreshing to see such dedication!

    Kathleen Morris
    http://primarytech.global2.vic.edu.au/

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    1. Thanks Kathleen, I appreciate your thoughts. As many of the other contributors to this post have suggested, it is becoming increasingly apparent that some kind of balance would need to be struck. I totally agree with you that the best PD are the ones we have organised ourselves!

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  6. Hi Tara, I suspect most Government funding for PD is targeted at Government priorities so maybe more about politics and the Government of the day than individual learning needs. Good feedback on your post, have enjoyed reading and sharing. Also judging on the response to EduCamps this is definitely something teaching professionals are looking for. First EduCampNZ coming up this month in Greymouth & Rotovegas http://educampnz.wikispaces.com

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    1. Yes, Educamps, Ignition, Ignite evenings etc are a wonderful PD opportunity and it would be great if they were more widely recognised as such. The good thing about these is that teachers already have the agency to attend these!

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  7. We've had some great PD at school, and it has needed to be school-wide. Principal had vision for how he wanted our maths teaching to change to contextual units. Overseas presenter was brought in- and some people from other schools came along to his first day. We've had regular meetings where we have shared successful things we've done. I think we needed a whole lot of that to bring about real change.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I agree that school wide PD can be important. I quite like the compromise that Jo came up with so that there is still scope to do this. In an ideal world (which this post is really about - I cant see it being a reality soon) there would be a pot for in house PD and teachers would also have access to take control of their own learning.

      I still think that it is important that teachers have access to some kind of fund (or can 'earn' credits) to attend PD that they are passionate about (without being at the mercy of a leader. Too many times I have funded my own PD and I have also seen teachers gutted that they cant attend conferences while other delegates look like they would rather be somewhere else... that scenario doesn't seem right to me.

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  8. This would be a great way for teachers to take ownership of their learning. The ability to save up over a few years for the big ticket events would be a bonus, although like a sabbatical a teacher might need to submit a simple proposal explaining the what, where and how of he PD and how they could share back to staff, students or school community.
    Most of the prestegius International Schools offer $1500-2000 US a year for personal PD, as they recognise the importance of teachers as learners.

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    1. Great point Luke. I like the idea of accountability achieved through a proposal and then sharing back. Sharing of a wide range of PD opportunities could be the scope of a very rich school wide PD session.

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