Donna is a principal at a small urban school. Hear her talk about the pitfalls of tradition:
Alan is a principal at a large suburban school. Hear him describe the impact of ineffective professional development (PD):
Paula is a superintendent at a large suburban district. Hear about their experimental approaches with professional development:
Alan is the principal of a large suburban school. Listen to his perspective of how educators want to learn and their social media approach to professional learning:
Without adequate experience or relatable exposure to the “what” and the “how” of deeper learning, practitioners are less likely to deepen learning for their students.
In our research, educators spoke about the significance of first-hand experience versus teacher training. For example, one teacher explained that a teacher’s experiences for 1 or 2 years in a teacher preparation program is no match for the 17 plus years of that teacher’s experiences as a student within an instructor-led education system. When a teacher finally gets into the classroom, everything is so overwhelming that they often fall back on known traditional methods. Both teachers and administrators talked about the pitfalls of professional development as something that is historically perceived as irrelevant or meaningless. Furthermore, traditional professional development is typically in the form of instructor-led presentations to a group of teachers, which models and reinforces a traditional classroom.
Providing relatable examples and on-going support for educators to experiment and be exposed to methods are effective strategies to enable deeper learning.
During interviews, we learned that relatability is a significant factor in both administrators and teachers’ willingness to consume information about deeper learning. For example, one teacher at a large urban school described how important it was for her to see students and school environments like hers in videos about teaching or learning topics. If she saw students in uniforms, she wouldn’t think it was applicable to her. Another administrator talked about the need to customize communication; showing administrators a deeper learning school that is significantly different from their public school is a non-starter. Additionally, providing opportunities and support for educators to learn and teach in non-traditional ways is effective. For example, one teacher spoke very highly of having an external consultant on-site who was able to provide weekly support for implementing project-based learning.