Saturday, October 15, 2011

Differentiated Professional Development

The past 2 weeks have been incredibly busy for me. Our school, this past Monday, had 8 Apple PD Trainers on our campus. My goal for this day was to make it as productive as possible for our teachers. Paul Tarantiles of Apple and I worked hard to come up with some workshop topics that would meet the needs of our faculty. Then, I had the teachers sign up for the sessions of their choice. Once they signed up, I determined which classes made and which needed to be cut. The result was an incredibly successful day. Giving teachers choice is just one way I see that we can effectively have differentiated Professional Development.

One of the most successful workshops of the day was titled Documentary Filmmaking. So why was it so successful? Teachers were active. It was not a "sit and get" environment. To learn the process, they made their own documentary film based on building a table. Then they spent the afternoon pulling together the concept and applying it to their own curriculum. The teachers left the day with a plan in hand as to how they can apply it to their classroom. I heard nothing but good things from teachers about that session. Because the teachers were allowed to be active, they felt the workshop met their needs.

When we talk about differentiation as it is applied to a classroom, we often say that three things can be differentiated: content, process and product. Content was differentiated on Monday by way of teachers choosing which sessions they wanted to attend. In the Documentary Filmmaking session, the process was differentiated with teachers active in the process. Product was also differentiated in that session since teachers left the session with an individualized plan for their own classroom and content.

Now the question is how do we make that sort of PD the norm? I'm still working on that one.


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