Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Professionals Can't Develop Without a Growth Mindset

Many teachers seek opportunities to intellectually enrich themselves and to expand their pedagogy. Being a life-long learner is a integral component to being a good teacher. We invest our time, talent, energy, and money in our personal and professional growth. We are intrinsically rewarded for these investments, our colleagues are enriched by the atmosphere created when the learning is shared, and our students' learning is enhanced by our risk-taking and forward-thinking pedagogy.

In order to compel teachers to continue their learning, they are mandated to attend professional development or professional learning sessions. Yesterday was election day which means that in many places it was also a day designated as a teacher professional development day. The electoral and school calendars have another thing in common: election day and the end of the first marking period very closely coincide. Which means when teachers are under pressure to wrap up the marking period with whatever grading obligations that poses for them, they are also being told to stop what they are doing and spend a day learning.

So my question is: do teachers bring to these mandated sessions the same growth mindset they bring to the voluntary ones? And for those who do not invest voluntarily in their ongoing learning, how can the mandated sessions be valuable to them? How do we grow a school culture that values professional learning in all its forms?

This is not a rhetorical question. I would love to hear people's insights. There are easy answers like the PD has to be relevant to them. It has to be differentiated. It has to be authentic with opportunities for teachers to apply the learning to their curricula. So, consider a PD day that involves choice -- several workshops based on a survey of faculty needs and the teachers can choose which to attend. Add to that sessions that include time to work with colleagues to apply learning to current student work and upcoming units and a space dedicated to practicing new technology and collaborating with colleagues practicing and applying the same new tools. Lastly, a follow-up hour of professional learning time the same week is set aside for them to work in their curricular teams to continue applying the new learning to upcoming instruction and assessment. Do you get a relevant, differentiated, authentic professional learning experience? I think so.

If some of the teachers' feedback tells you otherwise, what would you do differently? And, how would you continue to encourage your colleagues who had a positive, productive learning experience (despite the distraction of the end of the marking period and their grading concerns) to keep learning and not be discouraged by the day's detractors and distractions?

1 comment:

  1. Change is inevitable, it's messy, awkward and doesn't always go smoothly. It doesn't mean it's bad, but it does require you to step back and tell yourself...It's OK...I can do this! (and you may have to remind yourself that A LOT when you are in the middle of all of it).
    That mindset is vital to personal growth, professional development and your sanity! If you think as a teacher, everything is going to go smoothly and that in order to be successful, you have to be perfect, you are in the WRONG business. We are in a business where there is constant change and we need to be ready for that. Let that change motivate and challenge you to try new things, permit yourself to fail and try again. If you never try something new and then figure out how to make it work better, you really will never reach your full potential or grow as a person or a teacher. It's not how you feel when you go through it, it's how the final outcome feels after you are done and you reflect upon everything and realize it changed you for the better.
    Then, look back, reflect and see what else you can try. You will be amazed and inspired!