Using the Research to Drive Your Professional Development
- Published: Tuesday, 27 October 2015 12:29
As Ron Edmonds told us many years ago, we already know more than we need to teach ALL of our children effectively! The science of teaching and learning for children is now widely accepted. For example, when teaching a new concept to our students, explicit instructional methodology has proven to be the most effective and efficient instructional tool. While most Professional Development providers acknowledge that explicit instruction is one of the most effective methods of instruction, few, if any, actually apply and use the tenets of explicit instruction in their design or delivery of PD. JP does! All of our professional development, workshops and coaching, have explicit instruction design and delivery techniques as its very foundation. This truly makes JP’s professional development unique. Why use the same research in creating our workshops and coaching model for adult learners that we use for our children? JP firmly believes that learners are learners- whether 3, 24 or 85- learning is learning and ALL learners deserve to have the best quality education they can receive. We don’t stop learning when we reach a certain age!
Again, the research is definitive – the quality of the teacher is the most significant factor in closing the achievement gap. Research has shown that students can be separated by over 50 percentile points on standardized testing based solely on the quality of the teacher. Professional Development is where our teachers learn to be effective teachers. This is their classroom. Therefore, the same careful analysis and development spent on deciding what is instructionally best for our children, must be the same careful analysis and development spent on the curriculum for our teachers. AND, because the quality of the teacher is so significant for our students, the professional development company must be held accountable for our adult students just as our teachers are held responsible for their children’s learning. JP workshops are data driven with assessments to assure mastery of the strategies and skills teachers are taught.
The standards have brought about a new expectation that ALL children must achieve the outcomes expected by the standards. Research has shown that in order to achieve such a lofty goal, differentiation must be embedded in our instructional techniques: naïve children need more time, structure and, perhaps, even an additional instructional tool in order to learn effectively. At the same time, we must develop and extend the talents of those children who have exceeded expectations. The same is true for our teachers: not one size of professional development fits all teachers. After an on- site needs assessment, JP creates 3 tiers of teachers ranging from those teachers who need the basics to those teachers who can be nurtured to be future teacher leaders. Based on the classroom coaching visits, JP School Improvement Specialists create the necessary follow up PD that particular teachers need. Groupings for workshops are based on the actual performance of the teachers in their classrooms. We determine a pattern of need on the part of the teacher, be it questioning skills, management skills, and/or formative assessments, and provide the differentiated PD that fulfills those needs.
I have included an article about the effectiveness of establishing PD that is carefully differentiated based on teachers’ academic need. We cannot believe that teaching is an art and you are born to be a good teacher. Our own future and that of our children’s is quite dim if we take this view. Teaching is a science and great teachers can be developed and trained when the training they receive is of the highest quality and based on the evidence of effective teaching and learning.