Professional development is ineffective because no one learns through information transfer. In Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development research suggests that the tools teachers are using to prepare students for 21st-century careers are not the same tools used in professional development. As an educator, we are expected to model, provide hands-on activities, students opportunities to collaborate with peers and re-teach gaps in understanding. However, as educators, we are expected often to just learn through direct teaching. I am mentoring a new teacher and was working with her on our district LMS. I asked her what training she received and she told me they showed a PowerPoint presentation but had no access to a computer. What? Why? NO! How could you effectively understand a software program through a PowerPoint presentation? The truth is you cannot effectively learn this way, and we should be holding teachers training to the level we provide for our students. Otherwise, it will be quickly dismissed and the whirlwind will progress.
In years past, our district had one curriculum support for several campuses. An enormous amount of district spending was placed on buildings and technology. There was very little money spent on training for the technology put into place. One day we had a white board, the next day we had Smartboard. We received no initial training, or follow up training, because of this, many teachers don’t know how to properly use the Smartboard and use it in the same way as a whiteboard. Teachers are not held accountable for the proper use of some technology because they weren’t given appropriate training and follow up.
I found both reading resources incredibly influential, and I have had discussions with the instructional coaches in implementing training support for our campus teachers. I have a tough time comparing teacher evaluations because they are subjective. At my school, evaluations are always based on the level you are at that year, so if I am getting the same score as last year, I have shown growth. If I have not improved then my score will decline. I have worked at a Title 1 school that based the teacher evaluation on standardized testing. You could have grown tenfold as a teacher, but if your students did not meet the goal set by the state, you would reach the middle tier, maybe.
The Mirage report had valuable information backed by research, but one of the last sections I found profound. The Mirage report showed a slight difference in training between the CMO (charter management organization) and the other districts, but despite this similarity, the CMO teachers were showing much higher growth. Training is only one part of the equation, clear responsibilities and a culture of high expectations are what separates them from other districts. I am fortunate to teach at a school that has a positive culture with high expectations for teachers and students. Our school is often made fun of because we are not the wealthiest school in the district, and are working with fewer resources. Yet, year after year, our scores are the highest. And I think this report sums up the reasons behind why. I look across the hall and the English teacher is creating genius hour, the science teacher spent his summer developing flipped classrooms, the math teacher created an escape room scenario with equations. As a teacher states in the Mirage, “What’s unique about my school is that there is always going to be someone to push you. I don’t think I’ll ever be stagnate here.” That’s it! I have worked with other middle school teachers, (at other schools) that refused to tutor students, nor follow the curriculum. But at my school with fewer resources, we are doing more. These incredible teachers continue to push me, and others to a higher level.
Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main- Menu/Staffingstudents/Teaching-the-Teachers-Effective-Professional- Development-in-an-Era-of-High-Stakes Accountability/Teaching-the- Teachers-Full-Report.pdf
Heather Hill. (2015). Review of The Mirage: Confronting the Hard Truth about Our Quest for Teacher Development. Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved from http://www.greatlakescenter.org/docs/Think_Twice/TT-Hill-TNTP.pdf