OK, No More Staff Development

Did I say that out loud? Well I did last week, when I met with a group of technology and media educators at a local private school. They are proceeding with a re-write of their technology plan, on the verge of committing to a 1:1 laptop or tablet initiative, and struggling with educators who still believe that using computers relieves students from the opportunity to think.

I pointed out that the biggest linchpin between successful laptop initiatives and unsuccessful ones seems to be staff development, and I mentioned some staff development firms with experience in that sort of thing. But I continued by saying that their goal should not be a staff development plan, but a self-development infrastructure. Actually, I don’t think I called it anything. I’ve become weary of labels that get in the way of thinking outside the box.

They need to strive for a school environment where teachers:

  • Have the time to reflect and retool (at least three hours a day),
  • Have ready access to local and global ideas and resources that are logically and socially indexed,
  • Have the skills to research, evaluate, collaborate, remix, and implement new tools and techniques (contemporary literacy),
  • Are part of an ongoing professional conversation where the expressed purpose is to provoke change (adapt),
  • Leave the school from time to time to have their heads turned by new experiences,
  • Share what they and their students are doing with what they teach and learn — their information products and relics of learning become an explicit and irresistibly interwoven part of the school’s culture.

If we are trying to help our students to become life-long-learners, then this is what teachers should be right now. The question, “Who’s going to teach me to do that?” should be replaced with “I’m going to teach myself to do that!”

So, am I talking myself out of a job? I don’t think so. Good presenters cross-pollinate. Good presenters inspire. Some of us entertain. But we plant seeds. It’s up to good teachers to cultivate those seeds. Information lives without containers now. We need to figure out how to make teaching and learning something that exists outside of containers.

We are attempting to adapt the new information environment to fit our curriculum, when we should be adapting our curriculum to fit the new information environment.

Exactly 2¢ Worth.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.