FAIL – Individualized PD Plans

Reading Will Richardson’s recent post, “Personalizing Education for Teachers, Too,” brought me to a time about a year ago when in my role as technology director, I felt that our schools had stagnated in moving toward our goal of enhancing student achievement by adopting and implementing engagement and contructivist learning practices. A major objective within the goal was technology integration.

I addressed the stagnation issue to the Director of Schools and we agreed that I should present a “straw man” concept plan to the administration so as to get the discussion going. The day of the presentation came and we soared through the slides on engaging students, pedagogies, curriculum changes, and technology department reorganization. The administrators were obviously enthused and were offering insights and methods for consideration. Then we got to the keystone of the entire plan, an individualized professional development program.

I conceived and proposed an individual program that included multiple methods from conferences and eLearning to one-on-one to accommodate learning styles and broad content choices (unspecified) to accommodate teacher interest. I emphasized that all we had discussed to this point was dependent on an aggressive, multi-faceted PD program. As with previous talking points, I paused for reaction. Silence! It seemed to me to be an awkward silence. You know what I mean–no one in room even looks toward another. Rather, they look down at the table top. Seconds like hours pass and I click to the wrap up slide. “Thank you, Bill. You’ve given us a lot to think and talk about.”

I still don’t know why the cold shoulder. When I asked, the “awkward silence” was denied. “Really, do you think so? I thought your ideas were well received.” I imagine that I had ventured into an off-limits subject area. One reserved for senior administrators. Almost all the teachers (92%)I had collaborated with in preparation for the presentation indicated that they desired more control over the what and how of their technology PD. In anonymous surveys, all were unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the current PD program. And in group and one-on-one discussions on the subjects, teachers appeared willing, even eager, to discuss and work with me on the concept. It’s got to be an administrator thing.