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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Don't Want More Professional Development

I Don't Want More Professional Development

After several failed attempts to post a comment to TeachPaperless, I decided to post here instead...

I believe we all should want more professional development (with no quotation marks).

Professional development or growth – learning - is personal (not social) and stems from social interaction for the most part. “Social development” is partly the (synergetic) result of personal development within the network and is partly the influence the network has on the individual. The development of one’s personal learning network can be viewed as professional development, but also can be too vague to have much meaning. Forming relationships, for example, does not automatically equate to professional development unless there is a formal system that links what an educator knows and what an educator can do to an improvement in student achievement.

The formal system that links what an educator knows and can do to higher student achievement is participatory action research (PAR). PAR allows educators the opportunity to goal/problem set, take action, collect data, and reflect on past actions and project on future actions. PAR bridges theory and practice in that it can tie general theory to a local context or vice versa. PAR sharing in particular is helpful to those professionals who work at a school or organization since typically missions and vision statements must be met as well.

“The world is not professional. The world -- at least our communal experience of it and of one another -- is social.”

I would argue that the world is made up of professionals as in those who work for a living, but I would also add that some people have vocations (a calling) as well. Learning is personal (not social) and occurs by connecting with people and constantly reflecting on the way information and experiences flow between these connections in a way that best suits the individual and society as a whole.