Sunday, March 2, 2014

Remember context . . .

You may have seen this short video of a staff development session in Chicago facilitated by consultants from California and the United Kingdom.  It was included in an article by Valerie Strauss in The Answer Sheet. titled "A video that shows why teachers are going out of their minds.".

In a follow-up she shares reactions including from those that support the process being used in the professional development opportunity that was obviously video taped without the presenters knowledge.  I struggle with the process though we are missing the broader CONTEXT.  This could be an example and practice of choral recitation, a strategy used by some of our teachers, so we should be careful in making judgments from this snippet.  In the article, however, I was drawn to her citing of a 2013 National School Board study of professional development and the report summary she shared.

The reason traditional professional development is ineffective is that it doesn’t support teachers during the stage of learning with the steepest learning curve: implementation. In the same way that riding a bike is more difficult than learning about riding a bike, employing a teaching strategy in the classroom is more difficult than learning the strategy itself. In several case studies, even experienced teachers struggled with a new instructional technique in the beginning (Ermeling, 2010; Joyce and Showers, 1982). In fact, studies have shown it takes, on average, 20 separate instances of practice before a teacher has mastered a new skill, with that number increasing along with the complexity of the skill (Joyce and Showers, 2002).

This validates our focus on feedback, coaching, and peer observations, practices that are being used in our system to support changes in instructional practice.  We recognize the need for support not only in the learning phase , but also in the implementation phase over time.

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