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Dr. Vicki P

Teacher-In-Chief

May 23, 2017

What is the best professional learning experience you’ve had? What made is so valuable?

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Replies
Beth Maloney

The best professional learning experience I’ve ever had was the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification process because it is tailored to fit your current classroom practice with the students you teach every day. The process involves what you already know and do as a teacher and helps you to grow and reflect from there. It also introduced me to a community of like-minded teachers that I consistently learn with and from. It changed my teaching trajectory and kept me happily in the classroom. It is so uniquely different than the “spray and pray,” undifferentiated, one-size-fits-all approach to traditional professional learning in those ways. It is valuable because the National Board standards are what accomplished teachers believe and do in their classrooms every day.

Allison Riddle

The best professional learning experiences I have had are those where teachers are engaged in gameplay as if they were the students. I am an academic at heart, and as such, I enjoy professional lectures and readings. But when I experience activities in the same structure and format my students will, I truly appreciate what my students will experience. I am better able to differentiate the activities to meet the needs of all the learners in my room because I know first hand what the activity will feel like! I enjoy attending professional learning sessions where all the participants are willing to dive in as if they were the students themselves. The energy is contagious, and the collaborative conversations afterward provide rich resources of lesson extensions. Teaching is learning. To be an excellent teacher, one must first be a willing and motivated learner!

Christopher Bronke

Honestly, while this might seem a bit strange, my best PL has always been having a drink with a few colleagues after work. Truth be told, in some respect, that is how the National Blogging Collaborative was born. There is an authenticity to that situation: it is real, teacher-drive, and without pressure or artificial “accountability”–just great teachers talking about what great teaching is.

Kelly Southern

The best professional development is learning from other teachers. I love taking their ideas and tweaking them to work in my own classroom. It’s even better when no tweaking is necessary! Other teachers are our most valuable resources because their experiences are incredible–not to mention their knowledge bases!

Actual training, though, is a different story. The best PD was for project-based learning. It was so valuable because other teachers from my school attended as well. We worked together on a project. This made it easier to bring the information back to school. Most importantly… IT WAS FUN!

Michael Dunlea

The best professional learning experience I have ever experienced is a collection of events. I have been in two national teacher fellowships and belong to a national organization of very successful teachers that have had multi- year gatherings where leaders of education regularly came and sparked inspiring conversations. These conversations lit a fire in me to examine my long held beliefs of learning and teaching. I learned so much in the safe space these groups provided me. I was comfortable admitting I didn’t know what flexible seating was or asking why should I consider pursuing National Board Certification. These experiences began a major transformation in how my classroom looks and operates now.

The reason it was so valuable was that at the core it was built on relationships. I met and became professionally and socially connected to amazing educators from across the country. These relationships were my support system as I risked failure and tried new approaches, new methods and expanded my thinking when approaching teaching and learning. The community I found in these organizations has carried me to a new level of teaching.

The bar was raised and I felt the support to be bold enough to reach for it and achieve the success I saw in so many others.

Marguerite Izzo

I have experienced the full spectrum of professional learning experiences, from the “spray and pray” mind-numbing lectures to the interactive, challenging experiences that stay with me forever. I will focus on three of the most positive.

Creating my presentation for TeachingPartners and then being a mentor for so many outstanding TeachingPartners presentations genuinely improved my teaching practice. Participating in the NNSTOY Teacher Leader Modules as a developer, presenter, and attendant greatly expanded my abilities as a teacher leader.
Engaging in a district-level three-hour Saturday morning session on excellent pedagogy helped my think more deeply about how I construct a lesson.

The reasons why all three of these experiences were the best professional learning experiences are because they were grounded in research, were interactive, were led by expert current practitioners, and were delivered at a time and place outside of my full-time teaching job.


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