21st Century PD- Practice What you Preach

We are trying to teach our students 21st Century skills and  prepare them for a world with job descriptions “we can’t even imagine yet”. You have heard this over and over again.

How come we continue to support our teachers in their own learning (through Professional Development) with the same tools and skills than educators from the 60s, 70s , 80s or 90s? We can’t just throw up a PowerPoint presentation or a SmartBoard in front of the room and call that PD of the 21 Century.

How can we expect them to upgrade their teaching if we don’t allow them to experience their own learning through a 21st Century lens?

If we, like Sir Ken Robinson call for a Learning Revolution, then this MUST include a learning revolution for teachers as well.

The way teachers learn,  directly impacts the way they teach their students.

Practice what we preach

As Professional Development providers, we must practice with our students (in this case the teachers are our students) what we preach. We need to find ways to upgrade our presentations (see my Presentation21 Make-Over) and workshops and provide our “teachers” with:

  • authentic ways to try out tools
  • experience collaborative & connected learning
  • reflect on their learning process and how it could relate to their teaching

In order to do just that, I was able to arrange an opportunity for our faculty to be part of a Skype call with Heidi Hayes Jacobs, author of “Curriculum21- Education for a Changing World (ASCD, 2010). The book was the assigned summer reading title at our school. Questions related to different chapters were posted over the summer on our School PD Ning for guidance and encourage discussion.

Heidi Hayes Jacobs

During pre-planning week, teachers had a chance to discuss the book and its application in our school further. The following day we were thrilled to be able to have Heidi Hayes Jacobs “with us” virtually.

Introducing our School

Asking Questions

A few teachers had specific questions from the book or how the concept of Curriculum21, assessment and upgrade applied to our school or their subject area.

Collaboratively writing on Google Doc

In order to model the use of collaboration tool, we set up a shared Google Doc to collaborate with. Different teachers were assigned  to be the scribes in order to take notes for one of three columns:

  1. Essential Education
  2. Application for our school
  3. Web resources and links

Editing Notes on Google Docs

The resulting word document with notes and resource links was now available for all the faculty to review in their own time.

Curriculum21- Skype with Heidi Hayes Jacobs

The following video clip (19 minutes) is a synopsis of our conversation.

Curriculum21- Professional Development with Heidi Hayes Jacobs from langwitches on Vimeo.

Being able to…

  • bring in a subject area expert (virtually)
  • model a communication tool such as Skype (including the hick-ups of a dropped call)
  • collaboratively write notes
  • document with images and video the connection
  • share publicly the documentation to allow review and encourage reflection

… is modeling the kind of skills and learning  during Professional Development that we would like the teachers to take back to their classrooms and “translate” into their own teaching.

What are some examples you can share about practicing/modeling what you preach during Professional Development for your teachers?