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Professional development: The good, the bad, & the ugly?

Three teacher bloggers recently had three very different experiences with professional development.

Senorita in the City gave up a Saturday to participate in a workshop at the Museum of Modern Art, and found it well worth her time:

I attended the workshop that lasted from 10 am to 4 pm with a colleague from my school. We both found the workshop to be interesting and valuable to our classrooms (she teaches high school English, I teach high school Spanish). The day included a discussion of using modern art objects in the classroom and how to develop quality questions to ask our students while viewing a work of art. We spent half of the day in a classroom in the education building of MOMA, and the other half in the galleries of the museum acting as students while the instructor modeled a good way to ask questions and keep an art related conversation going.

Meanwhile, They Call Me Teacher is dismayed that her school is just beginning to discuss strategies for helping students on the upcoming social studies test:

We are talking about a “new” discovery and strategy. We need to teach our students the jargon on the test. What are those words? How can we teach them (in less than 3 weeks)? … Ummm My thought: What the hell have you been doing for the last 5 years of Social Studies testing? Why are you just realizing this now!? It’s a complete given that the wording on tests can cause students to miss questions that they may be able to answer if worded differently. … Every school I have been at prior to this one has had this vocabulary issue integrated into their teaching. There are lists developed or shared with districts and schools to use… and they were created from the start of these high-pressure tests.

And Mr. S. at Sig Gains in the City wasn’t so impressed by a workshop at his school, which included reading the standards aloud, creating a skit about data-driven instruction, and other creative professional development practices:

Even more unfortunate is the DOE’s version of keeping all teachers up to speed with the best teaching practices. Part of me says playing a board game on exemplar teaching practices is not keeping our 30 year veterans up to speed with how technology can be incorporated in the classroom, or teaching our new teachers how to differentiate their curriculum. Nor is it helping the teacher who reads the newspaper in the back of the room during instructional time.

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