Professional development for teachers today is often done "to us," not "by us." There is a lack of consistency in these top down PD initiatives, as different solutions to old problems are tried almost yearly, but never actually established or appropriately reflected upon by teachers and leaders. These "flavor of the month" initiatives are met with a lot of eye rolling by teachers, because they rarely speak directly to the needs we have in our classrooms. What's especially strange to me about this model is that it does not set up teachers to be the experts in our own field.
1. Acquire the basics of teaching. Get over the hump of being a beginner through experience, mentorship, reflection.
2. Identify areas of interest, such as designing assessments, teaching the skills of collaboration to students, or connecting with communities around student learning, to name a few possibilities.
3. Explore these areas deeply in their own teaching, drawing on available research and methods and developing their own practices that work for their students in their school context.
4. Participate in discourse around these practices within the wider profession. Unfortunately, the discourse has often included only professors and researchers, and to some degree, preservice or beginning teachers through course work, but not experienced, practicing teachers!
5. Finally, share developments with other teachers, both in teaching/school contexts and outside. Teachers could write, present at conferences, and move into various leadership roles.
Many teachers already have a pathway that looks like this, but they do so, by going against the grain of the established professional development models, and they often don't get recognized or credited for their professional growth and knowledge.
The result of a more teacher-driven professional growth model would be a more deeply skilled, empowered teaching force, in which we are clearly the experts at what we do.
[image credit: careergirlnetwork.com]