Tag Archives: professional development

How can we make professional development more useful?

I (Clare) was recently doing a Meet and Greet for our newly admitted student teachers to Image_PDcartoonour Master of Arts in Child Study teacher education program. I talked about how teaching is a journey and that you never stop learning. From our longitudinal study of teachers we know that teachers learn a great deal from each other and from reflecting on their teaching. I believe there is a place for formal professional development; however, many teachers (myself included) have found formal PD to be of little use. It is often so removed from daily practice, tends to be top-down, and is a one-off. Teachers need time and place for conversations about their teaching. There is a place for formal structured PD but the way it is so often delivered it is not effective. In previous blogs I have written about my teacher-researcher group which has been a very powerful form of PD because all of the teachers are working on a topic/question that is important to them. One of the students in my grad course sent me this cartoon about PD. Although I chuckled when I read it, I feel that is sums up the sentiments of many.

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OTF Supports Teacher’s Self-Directed Professional Development

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The Ontario Teacher’s Federation (OTF) recognizes that teachers need to direct their own learning and professional development. To support this need they now offer a professional development  problem-based learning model which encourages teacher teams the opportunity to create their own learning projects.  The model encourages teachers to: select a team to work with; develop a project; conduct the research; and evaluate the effectiveness.  If the proposal is accepted, the OTF also provides support for the project through a mentoring program. Each team is assigned an expert teacher who will act as their mentor, who assists the team as needed throughout the process.

Through this process teachers are given the opportunity to:

  • become involved in ongoing self-directed learning;
  • spend real time collaborating with colleagues of their choice;
  • work as a team on a project of they deem significant (within the specified areas of focus);
  • have release time to carry out the learning initiative;
  • develop and implement the project over a period of months;
  • deepen their practice and evaluate teaching enhancements generated through your research and discussions; and
  • share their knowledge and resources with colleagues.

This year they have suggested three areas of focus:

  • Using information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance teaching and learning
  • Supporting capacity building in Kindergarten
  • Supporting teachers in implementing revised curriculum
    • Grades 1-8
      • History and Geography
      • Social Studies
    • Grades 9-12
      • Canadian and World Studies
      • Classical and International Languages
      • First Nation, Métis and Inuit Studies
      • Social Sciences and Humanities
    • Grades 1-12
      • French as a Second Language
      • Health and Physical Education

Deadline for 2016  proposal applications is May 31.

Some  2015 projects were:

Assessment Technology in Primary Physical Education

Cross-Curricular Integrating Technology/Media Studies

iPads for Inclusion

I remember, as a classroom teacher, wishing my school board would allow me the opportunity to identify my own areas of strength and weakness and seek out professional development accordingly.  It is appropriate that the OTF is acknowledging this form of PD and taking a step in the right direction.  It would be helpful if teacher education programs could also offer similar forms of support for their own staff and faculty.

http://www.otffeo.on.ca/en/learning/teacher-learning-co-op-tlc/

 

Creating Cultures of Thinking: An Amazing PD Experience

I (Clare) blogged in a previous post that I am incoming Director of the Jackman Institute of Child Studies. http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/ics/ JICS includes a lab school, teacher education program, and research centre. It is truly an amazing place!

Last week I had an opportunity to attend the Lab School teachers’ faculty meeting. They 618L8vDZYNL._SX376_BO1,204,203,200_had a week of PD and central to their activities was reading and discussing the text Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools by Ron Ritchhart. http://www.amazon.ca/Creating-Cultures-Thinking-Transform-Schools/dp/1118974603/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442084403&sr=8-1&keywords=Ron+Ritchhart

The teachers had read the book over the summer and were reporting on chapters, selecting key quotes, and discussing implications for their practice. This was truly PD at its best – the teachers were thoughtful, involved, and relating theory to their practice. Under the leadership of the principal Richard Messina so much learning occurred and the community was strengthened.

Below are a few quotes they selected from Ritchhart’s text which I found very inspiring:

“…when both teachers and students have the expectation, or mindset, that one gets smarter through one’s efforts, then challenge and mistakes can be embraced as learning opportunities.” p. 7

“…traditional academic skills…do not adequately define the kind of students we collectively hope to send into the world. Nor do they define the kind of employee [skills] businesses are looking for…professionalism, work ethic, collaboration, communication, ethics, social responsibility, critical thinking, and problem solving…” p. 17

“…in a learning-oriented classroom, teachers and students focus their attention on the learning as a priority, letting the work exist in context and serve the learning.” p. 45

“…lots of new teachers, and perhaps some experienced ones, struggle with learning to listen, yet listening is one of the powerful ways we show respect for and interest in our people’s thinking.” p. 82

“for classrooms to be cultures of thinking for students, schools must be cultures of thinking for the adults” p. 102

Being part of a school where teachers are decision-makers, expert educators, treated as intellectuals, and work collaboratively is a true honour. I suspect there are going to be many more blogs about what I am learning at JICS.

How do teachers learn? Guest blog by Elizabeth Rosales

What are the ways teachers learn? What kinds of professional development activities do Elizabeth Rosalesteachers participate in during their careers? What are the main supports for teacher learning in Ontario? What are the professional learning activities teachers find more helpful? What are teachers’ critiques to the current professional development activities?

These questions were in my mind when I (Elizabeth) started my Master´s thesis research at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Working with Clare Kosnik and Clive Beck in the longitudinal study of teachers (https://literacyteaching.net/projects/) has been a great opportunity to learn about teachers and teaching. My Master’s thesis research was a sub-study of this longitudinal study.

The experiences of Tanya and Anita – the two teachers who participated in my study – offered me a great opportunity to gain insight into their learning experiences. Drew on interviews that were held over their first eight years in the teaching profession, my aim was to:

  • identify the kinds of professional development opportunities that were available to the teachers, and
  • describe the teachers’ perceptions of the possibilities and limits of these opportunities.

The most relevant conclusions of my study are:

–        Mentoring can be very helpful provided the mentor is well-selected, the timing is precise, and the relationship is encouraging

The findings suggest that there are three key elements for a beneficial induction process: (i) the pairing process should consider a match in the teaching assignments of the mentor and mentee, (ii) the induction should start in the first year of teaching and early in the academic year, and (iii) the relationship should respond to the emotional needs of the new teacher.

–        Collaboration can significantly enhance teacher professional learning. However, the benefits can be constrained by educational policy pressures and different visions of teaching within the collaborating group.

The teachers participated in several formal and informal opportunities to collaborate with other teachers. They valued “bouncing ideas off each other” and “talking through” their pedagogical practices in these experiences.

Nevertheless, teachers critiqued the formal opportunities sponsored by the government since they focused on specific content that was not related to their needs. The research points to the necessity of teacher input and decision-making for the design and implementation of relevant professional development programs.

Also, teachers found it challenging when different vision of teaching emerge within the collaborating group. The findings suggest the importance of conducting a discussion of visions of teaching in order to establish common ground on which to build collaboration in a community of teachers.

–        University graduate degree work can be a valuable means of teacher professional learning through fostering connections between pedagogical theory and teaching practice.

The parallel work of teaching and part-time graduate studies presented one of the teachers with several opportunities to link theory and practice. There were reciprocal gains from participation in both spaces. For instance, the readings about new theories of literacy shaped her classroom practice, and also her teaching informed her research.

Further research is needed to understand the potential benefits of graduate studies as an alternative route for teacher professional development.

If you are interested in learning more about Tanya and Anita learning experiences, you can access the following link to download my full work (for FREE!)

https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/65532

Your opinions and feedback are welcome!

Reflections on Collaborative Lesson Study

When in Japan last week, I (Clive) was able to gather some opinions on “Japanese lesson study,” which to a degree is being advocated in other countries as well as Japan. Briefly, it involves a teacher preparing a lesson, perhaps with help from others, teaching the lesson with colleagues looking on, and subsequently getting feedback from those present (other than the students) on the lesson and its delivery.

During a visit to an elementary school, the principal told me that those doing the teaching don’t enjoy the experience, though he is inclined to think that on balance it is useful. At a teacher education institution I learned that student teachers have to engage in lesson study as a key element in their final practicum. A teacher educator commented that the student who is “on show” typically feels under extreme pressure, is unable to sleep the night before, has to keep entirely to a script submitted beforehand, and is subjected to strong criticism afterwards by fellow student teachers, notably for diverging from the script. She clearly wasn’t keen on the process, at least as implemented in pre-service programs she is familiar with.

It seems to me that collaborative lesson development has to be handled very carefully, in Japan or anywhere else. Discussing with colleagues what and how to teach has enormous potential benefits, and many teachers in our longitudinal study are in favor of it. However, a friendly, collegial atmosphere must be established; it should be made clear that each teacher is in the end responsible for their practice; appropriate departure from what is planned should be applauded rather than condemned; and there should be no expectation that all teachers will teach the same things in the same way. This is in keeping with important general ideals of teaching such as constructivism, flexibility, individualization, and teacher professionalism.

 

Review of literature on teacher educators

I (Clare) am reading the recently published book, The Professional Teacher Educator: Roles, BehaLunenberg text coverviour, and Professional Development of Teacher Educators by Mieke Lunenberg, Jurrien Dengerink, and Fred Korthagen. https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/authors/auth-mieke-lunenberg/ The book is review of 137 key publications on teacher educators. I found their identification of the six roles of teacher educators interesting and informative: teacher of teachers, researcher, coach, curriculum developer, gatekeeper, and broker. They discuss forms of professional development for each role. There is also an extended case study of a group of Dutch educators. For those interested in the study of teacher educators you might find their exhaustive research useful.

Presentations

On Saturday a number of us from our research teams presented at the Ontario Teachers’ Federation/Ontario Association of Deans of Education conference. We did two papers:

·      Teaching Student teachers How to Teach for Relevance, Integrating Curriculum around Big Ideas and Key Values

Clive Beck, Clare Kosnik, Shelley Murphy, and Elizabeth Rosales

·      On-going Learning for Literacy/English Teacher Educators: Examining Four Spheres of Knowledge

Clare Kosnik, Pooja Dharamshi, Cathy Miyata, Lydia Menna, and Yiola Cleovoulou

 

Click on the link Publications and Presentations to see our powerpoint presentations. (Clare’s ppt can be found under Clare’s presentations; Clive’s ppt can be found under Clive’s presentations.)

AERA Division K New Faculty Preconference

Attention Division K New Faculty! Only a few spots remaining for the New Faculty Preconference.The deadline for applications is January 31, 2014!

The pre conference starts on Wednesday, April 2 at 4:00. We meet again on Thursday, April 3 from 9:00 – 12:00.  This Division K New Faculty Seminar is an exciting opportunity to dialogue, socialize, and share with other new faculty and the facilitators and is designed to:

•             Provide support for new teaching and teacher education faculty,

•             Engage Division members with each other and with the Division’s activities,

•             Examine various methodological approaches to research,

•             Create professional networks that will last a lifetime, and

•             Make important scholarly connections that create a community of new scholars.

 

The preconference organizers are established scholars who will discuss ways to thrive in your career. Our division is committed to supporting new faculty! There is a maximum of 25 participants.

To apply for the pre-conference submit a two-page letter of application that includes a description of: (a) applicant’s background; (b) the applicant’s current position and years of service; (c) research interested and methodological approaches to research; and (d) one or two problems of issues in transitioning from being a graduate student to the role of faculty member.

Send your application and questions to Clare Kosnik at ckosnik@oise.utoronto.ca

The Pre-conference Facilitators are:

Renée T. Clift, University of Arizona
Tom Dana, University of Florida
Valerie Kinloch, The Ohio State University
Clare Kosnik, University of Toronto/Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Rich Milner, University of Pittsburgh,

 

Informal Teacher Learning. Teachers as Experts.

This past week we’ve been writing a paper on ongoing teacher learning, based on our 9-year longitudinal study of 42 teachers. What has struck me is the amount teachers learn after their initial preparation, mainly through experience in their own classroom and other informal means (e.g., chatting with colleagues, professional reading, searching the internet). As Marisa said at the end of her sixth year:

 When I started teaching, I soon realized there was so much I didn’t know. The first couple of years I struggled, and had to work really hard on my programming. But over time I’ve become more confident…I try new things, work with other teachers, and use what I learn to improve my program.

External input by formal means is potentially very important, but at present not much happens. And if and when we finally get around to it, it has to be done in dialogue with teachers, building on the approach they have already developed. Teachers are truly key experts, perhaps the main experts, on teaching. Clive

 

Attention AERA Division K New Faculty!

The deadline for Applications for the Division K New Faculty Preconference has been extended to January 31, 2014!

The pre conference starts on Wednesday, April 2 at 4:00. We meet again on Thursday, April 3 from 9:00 – 12:00. 

This Division K New Faculty Seminar is an exciting opportunity to dialogue, socialize, and share with other new faculty and the facilitators and is designed to:

•             Provide support for new teaching and teacher education faculty,

•             Engage Division members with each other and with the Division’s activities,

•             Examine various methodological approaches to research,

•             Create professional networks that will last a lifetime, and

•             Make important scholarly connections that create a community of new scholars.

 

The preconference organizers are established scholars who will discuss ways to thrive in your career. Our division is committed to supporting new faculty! There is a maximum of 25 participants.

To apply for the pre-conference submit a two-page letter of application that includes a description of: (a) applicant’s background; (b) the applicant’s current position and years of service; (c) research interested and methodological approaches to research; and (d) one or two problems of issues in transitioning from being a graduate student to the role of faculty member.

Send your application and questions to Clare Kosnik at ckosnik@oise.utoronto.ca

The Pre-conference Facilitators are:

Renée T. Clift, University of Arizona
Tom Dana, University of Florida
Valerie Kinloch, The Ohio State University
Clare Kosnik, University of Toronto/Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Rich Milner, University of Pittsburgh