Have you ever attended a mandatory professional development (PD) session with little or no relevancy to your position? How about a class where you left excited to try new things, but just never had the time to try it out, and the binder sits dusty on your shelf? I attended a PD about differentiation when a colleague turned to me and stated what is now obvious, "why do they expect us to teach using differentiation strategies, yet we are all receiving the same exact training with no regard to our ability, experience or relevancy?" Why indeed?Published in ASCA's November issue of "Leadership Magazine", our superintendent, Dr. Deborah Blow and I co-wrote an article exploring the benefits and challenges of the Academy Model for professional development (PD). To me, a huge benefit of this model is providing teachers with targeted PD in areas they are interested in, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach that usually never fits all. Our article describes the planning and vision that went into creating our academies, as well as some of the problems and opportunities it has created.
It was amusing to me that as we collaborated on writing the article Dr. Blow and I faced many of the challenges encountered by our students. Not allowed to share in and out of our internal "walled garden", we were unable to collaborate with Google Docs (which we 'require' our kids to use). So then we tried our wiki, (Thank you wikispaces for offering free wikis to educators), but we had multiple user IDs and couldn't connect that way. Laughing as we tried to use 21st century tools, we ended up using good "old" cut & paste and email.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned with having the iPads is allowing students even more control of their own learning. I am trusting my kids and they trust me. The iPads changed the way our classes ran and they way our students learned.... Change drives their creativity, and their creativity fosters change!