I’ve been thinking a lot about the “right way” to build the capacity of those in a school to meet the various and specific needs of struggling students. Too often the conversation around professional learning is held in conference rooms by administrators years removed from the challenges of leading a classroom. I’m guilty as I’ve served the last decade of my career in various administrative roles ranging from Assistant Administrator to Principal.
Policy makers and education leaders tend to approach Professional Learning from a deficit mindset. We think that we need to build capacity as I stated in my first sentence, but I’m challenging myself to think differently. Professional learning should be driven by teachers and should focus on sharing the great work currently taking place. This strengths based viewpoint is exactly the shift we need if we hope to change the face of professional learning. Great ideas that are worth sharing will naturally spread and create excitement within an organization. As John Hattie puts it, we should be a treasure hunt and not a witch hunt.
Professional Learning is often referred to as Professional Development. I hate this term and it needs to be removed from our vocabulary as educators. Teachers are professionals seeking growth and not objects to be developed. As administrators we myst challenge ourselves to identify what is great in our schools and utilize professional learning for teachers by teachers that seeks to capitalize on these strengths. This not only will help others improve, but it will validate the work of your high performers who are irreplaceable.