Readings Week 12: Professional Development

And so begins my last blog post on the last readings for our class. This week, we read about professional development in the K-12 school setting. It was nice to get a picture of what my K-12 teachers did in the early mornings on “PD” days, where we got to sleep in and start school later! In Semadeni’s “When Teachers Drive Their Learning” (2010), the author describes a teacher-led model of professional development. Teachers in the rural school district of Lincoln County choose which areas of teaching they would like to develop some mastery in, and an “expert” teacher in that area leads group discussion on the strategy. Then, the teachers practice those skills in their classrooms and are evaluated by the master teacher. The school district sounded very supportive of this program: they allowed teachers to use normal school time for the programs, and teachers received a stipend for their time and efforts based on the difficulty of the new skill or strategy. One thing I really liked about that Fusion program is that even if a teacher is inexperienced overall, they might have a specific skill that they can teach to their peers–so anyone could be an expert. This is great because 1) it helps even new teachers feel empowered and 2) it broadens and deepens the pool for professional development: it can bring all kinds of new skills to the forefront.

The Blowers & Reed (2007) article outlined four core competencies for librarians at a public library system in North Carolina. The CCs covered technological skills; the library system’s tech director and specialists realized that technology is a major part of just about all of the library’s service offerings and set out to increase tech competency in the library’s overall staff. They implemented it through “Learning 2.0”: letting staff and librarians learn the new skills on their own time. Discovery, play, and fun were emphasized more than getting something right. The full program took nine weeks; each week introduced a new topic. Participants used blogs to share their thoughts on each week’s new skill (similar to what I’m doing right now!). The librarians/staff in Blowers & Reed also received rewards, but it was more of a fun summer reading program (as described by someone in the article) with prizes: an MP3 player and drawings for a laptop, etc. Fontichiaro (2008) implemented a program based off of Blowers and Reed’s in her school, using the same blogging method. She found that blogging helped create camaraderie for staff members–adding to the overall positive feelings that this kind of PD generates.

I think MLibrary does a great job in encouraging professional development equally for staff and for librarians. They offer many different workshops ranging from tech skills to management strategies to instruction skills. There are also more informal and ongoing group meetings, like reading groups, which range from popular fiction to scholarly publications. Combining some of the aspects of Fusion, where “experts” are identified within peer groups, with the more structured academic workshop system could make for an interesting PD method.

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2 thoughts on “Readings Week 12: Professional Development

  1. Thanks for the link to the MLibrary workshops. I like your idea of having staff become “experts” and teach a workshop. It would give the instructor a chance to engage with material they will use in another context, and also help people get to know their colleagues better. I’m sometimes surprised at what I learn about my classmates when they give a presentation, so that probably works at the professional level, as well.

  2. I also really liked the concept of having peer taught sessions AND providing rewards/compensation for the people who did the teaching. I know that no matter how well I know something I personally always learn best by teaching others, so this method would likely help strengthen the teachers’ skills as well as those learning it for the first time.

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