District Administration April 2017 - 42


Personalized learning reshapes PD

MICROCREDENTIALS IN WISCONSIN-At a recent RechargEd event, which gathers educators from the Kettle Moraine
School District and neighboring districts, above, educators discuss personalized learning tactics. Kettle Moraine
implemented microcredential training two years ago-and recognizes teacher development via salary bonuses.

are offered prizes for participating.
To get support for a new mentoring
system, Maury County Public Schools in
Tennessee asked teachers to hold an election to select fellow teachers as coaches.
The district also circulates annual surveys
in which teachers suggest what kinds of
professional development should be offered the following year to best support
student growth.
Regular observations and feedback
through video coaching has become a
linchpin of ASPIRE to Teach, a teacher
licensing program in Colorado that allows professionals from different career
backgrounds to earn their credential while
working in the classroom.
Teachers in the program use a low-tech
option, such as a laptop with video capability placed at the back of the classroom,
to record their work, says ASPIRE Director Suzanne Arnold. Then they share that
video with an ASPIRE instructor who
gives them detailed feedback and helps
them address targeted improvement areas.
Equity and flexibility
While districts are working to create more
personalized PD, teacher-led virtual options are exploding at an even faster rate.
42 April 2017

Teachers can attend peer-organized
conferences such as #EdCamp and Twitter Math Camp, join Google Plus learning communities, or seek advice through
Facebook groups and Pinterest pages.
Teachers also organize #Playdate meetups
to gain hands-on experience with new
apps and classroom technology.
However districts define and approach
PD, careful planning is critical, adds
Ilana Seidel Horn, a professor at Vanderbilt University whose research focuses on
teacher development.
"Is it just about 'Choose Your Own
Adventure' PD where teachers get to
decide whether to go to workshop A or
workshop B?" Horn says, "or is there more
of a long-term commitment to giving
teachers feedback about what's going on
in their classroom?"
One concern Horn raises is that the
#EdCamp-style of professional development can lead to a "rich-get-richer" dilemma. Teachers who already self-identify
their weaknesses are the most likely to seek
learning opportunities. Teachers who need
the most help can get left behind. "The
problem with this sort of romantic notion
that all we need to do is let the teachers
lead, is that we know that our educational

system has entrenched a lot of stratification and inequality. And teachers are embedded within that system," Horn says.
"Simply letting teachers have more time
to lead each other isn't going to shift that."
While many district leaders might
want to hold off on handing over the reins
of professional development entirely to
teachers, training must remain relevant
and should also leverage the flexibility of
digital platforms, says Cara Skaggs, school
improvement coordinator for Maury
County schools.
The reality is that young teachers entering the workforce today are digital learners
who expect more flexible and personalized
professional development, Skaggs says.
"They don't want to come to a workshop at 3 p.m. They'd rather go home and
get personalized learning on their tablet or
their phone," Skaggs says. "We're trying
harder and harder to give them that." DA
For another expert view, see "Individualized
PD provides flexibility," on p. 64.
RESOURCES ONLINE
DAmag.me/pdr

Jessica Terrell is a freelance writer based in
Hawaii.
District Administration


http://www.DAmag.me/pdr

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