Tuesday, May 29, 2012
End of the Journey
It has begun, the star of the end of another school year and the end of the journey of Individualized Professional Development/goals for my colleagues and I at Sullivan Heights. In 25 years of teaching and being on the Professional Development team most of those years I can honestly state that this year's "year of growth" was outstanding and extremely surprising. Many educators have heard the research of students taking ownership of their learning. Wang's (1980) Adaptive Learning Environment Program model was designed in part to foster personal responsibility and autonomy in students. The Learning-Team Model developed by William Glasser (1986) and the Cooperative Learning approach (Fogarty, 1990, Johnson, 1989, Kagan, 1989, 1990, and Slavin, 1989, 1990) also encourage students to take responsibility for their learning collectively. Donald Platz in the article "Student Directed Planning Fostering Student Ownership in Learning ("Education", Vol. 114, 1994) discusses the implementation of Student Directed Planning in detail. What I am suggesting is use the same principles in directed Learning to teachers' learning - or in our situation we called it "Individual Professional Goals" for the school year.
As stated in a previous article, teachers at the start of the school year selected one goal to work on, a goal that would help improve their teaching in the up and coming school year. The premise was to work on this goal/research/learning and try to incorporate the idea/concept for at least a month. If in a month you can see it works you would continue on researching your area of learning or you can change to a new one. If it failed or was not what you were interested in, you could choose another goal. This personalized learning was conducted during our Professional development days with the majority of teachers looking forward (not against) the learning day, a positive atmosphere developed for these days of learning. The staff would get together for a motivational small clip of learning, then off they would go. In the afternoon, we would share some of our learning, and then continue on with our goals. Teachers on staff began to network together in the interest of their goals, in the interest of learning new areas. Other teachers would blog and network outside of our school. The sharing began with enthusiasm, and as you can see from this site and the links to to the side, my colleagues and I "went for it". The learning was enthusiastic, invigorating, and just plain fun.
There were some negative aspects of this learning. Not all members bought into the concept with the same level of enthusiasm. Some people explored a number of areas of learning, others stayed to one or two areas and did not move. Some ventured out without fear, some with, but in the end, when asked at the last Professional Development Day if the staff wished to continue this way, there seems to be a feeling of yes.
So the grant that we received from our district went hand in hand with this learning concept and for the next few blog entries, the results will be posted here as "Guest Bloggers" to my site. Please enjoy the blogs and please go forth with some aspirations and inspirations from my staff. Although I say this is the end of a journey, it is only the end of this years learning, we will continue on at Sullivan Heights to be the "Stars" that we aspire our students to be. Thank you.