Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A "Shift" In Professional Development

Our district recently went under new leadership. A new superintendent was hired to replace the one we lost to illness last year. Of course, just as a teacher needs to become familiar with their school when first hired, our SI is adjusting to her new district. She has also brought with her some fresh ideas from her old district.

She shared with us (the PD committee, in which I am a member) the idea of keeping a professional portfolio, with evidence to support how the professional development you attended has directly impacted your instruction and practice. I have always been careful in considering what professional development to take so that it did have a direct impact, but I never thought about those who might be trying to gather hours for re-certification, but without it really having an impact on their practice.

So I took her draft example, and my notes, and looked those over after the meeting. Today I took a webinar about the DOE changes and expectations in upcoming PD Master plans for districts. This reflection I am currently writing is to meet the needs of a requirement with our current PD plan. I filled out the paperwork to take the webinar, I have the email confirming my registration, and now I'm typing the reflection required about my PD experience.

Here's the twist. This reflection must be attached the the PD paperwork that needs to be turned in within 30 days.

So what was talked about at our last meeting and during the webinar is about the long term impact that PD has on practice, but here I must write a reflection on something 1) haven't been able to put into practice yet 2) must be turned in within a short period of time, therefore can I even measure the impact in the reflection? 3) will this type of reflection prove useful as evidence since it is written 10 minutes after attending the webinar, so I do not miss the universal deadline?

So I guess that this reflection is about the usefulness about forcing a reflection when there is nothing to yet reflect upon. That is a dilemma.

So what is the "shift" I hinted to in the title? It was a phrase I heard during the webinar: Professional Learning. I think if we look at it as a process of learning, then long term reflection on progress makes more sense. When we talk about the upcoming Master Plan, I think we need to review the purpose and timeline of a reflection. I think it might be better to do a meaningful reflection of the year as a whole, instead of individual activities. I would rather look back and examine my growth and the connections, than try to arbitrarily come up with an explanation of what I just experienced, and how it might fit in to my practice.