Friday, March 09, 2012

PD that Motivates

Recently I worked on an idea for collaborative professional development among competing schools. Seems crazy - schools that compete for the same demographic coming together to collaborate and train their staff, but actually it is brilliant! Collaboration is not a cookie cutter concept, but rather an opportunity for people to work on an idea and then go off and develop it at your their school with their own flavor. Then, come back to the group with your piece and together the pieces make a creative collaboration.

I have often said teaching is a learning profession - a group of interested and inspired people that learn from their students while they teach them..  When I think about teaching I don't really care much about the tools that are used or that my students use the tools, instead I am excited to witness students learning, synthesizing and conceptualizing ways to share what they know - using the Web 2.0 tools I share with them is just a plus.

This is especially true in the arena of Professional Development. According to an article in the New York Times today teacher morale is at an all time low. How can we motivate teachers that feel rejected by the system designed to support them? What motivation can we offer? There are many theories about motivation ranging from Aristotle's Seven Causes to Dan Pink's Drive. We can apply them all but I believe ultimately it is intrinsic. People are inspired to change, try, become, do from inside. There are so many stories about people that had nothing, down on their luck and then they make one small change and it is like the Butterfly Effect - it changes everything around them and they are moved from one "life" to a completely different one.

I believe the learning begins not by showing the teachers the Web 2.0 tools they can use, but rather as they begin to conceptualize and share their lessons with the idea of a new conveyance... one that may further engage their students.

Powerful Learning Practice
A simple, small disruption can bring about monumental change. It is my hope that by bringing together educators that share a similar goal but different persuasions, each will become inspired by the other. Ideas will flow, challenges will be met and overcome, and through this disruption will come creation. We decided to work with PLP Network to achieve this goal and we set about writing a collaborative grant with the hopes that we will be able to reach all these educators and bring about great things in every school. I am holding my breath that and keeping my fingers crossed that we get the grant. Even without the grant, this methodology (PLP Network supporting collaborative learning among our faculty) is one we are excited to explore.