Thursday, December 9, 2010

Experts Among Us

I thought I would connect my first Research Thursday to yesterday's blog. In addition to surveying, half a million students, we have surveyed over 20,000 teachers with QISA's My Voice-Staff Survey. In the results, four out of five (81%) agreed that professional development (PD) is an important part of their educational growth. And nearly all (99%) said they enjoy learning new things. So much so that 94% said they seek out opportunities to learn new things. I assume the others just wait for the new things to come to them. At least it would seem all teachers are open-minded. Which doesn't quite square with yesterday's "this too shall pass."

Perhaps because just over half (55%) of those surveyed said that meaningful professional development exists in their district. Obviously there is no way to know if the 45% who did not agree that district-sponsored PD holds any significance for them includes those who are waiting for those PD opportunities to just go away.  Another explanation could be that what teachers want in their PD is new learning and the PD offered just seems to be more of the same old same old.

I think there may be a related disconnect here. Actually a double disconnect. First, teachers have shared that they don't have much input on the PD that is offered in their district or school. Most of that is selected by administrators based on what they feel the needs of the schools are. Second, many teachers believe the best PD comes from inside, rather than from outside. Experts in education themselves, highly expert in the unique needs of their particular students, many teachers feel they would be best served by PD led by their colleagues. This correlates with a growing sentiment I have picked up in schools of teachers feeling administration doesn't trust them. It is one of the reasons I see my work not so much as bringing to schools an expertise that is not already there, but as facilitating the expertise of the staff I find when I arrive.

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