Professional Development

This week we had three readings on professional development from Coatney Chapter 8, Growing Schools: Librarians as Professional Developers Chapter 1, and Teachers and Librarians Collaborate in Lesson Study by Linda Bilyeu.

In Coatney’s chapter, the author discusses how the librarian can be a leader in professional development due to their unique positioning of being both a teacher, and slightly an administrator. She also talks about Professional Learning Communities (PLC) where teachers can meet with a group of other teachers during the week, almost of what reminds me of a salon. They can discuss how things are going for students and teachers, along with any new knowledge gathered from others’ experiences. I am very interested in this idea, especially because I think it would help veteran teachers and new teachers alike. A salon is all about trying to increase your knowledge, and talk about something that really interests you. As the librarian, I can see how being leaders of these communities would make sense. We’re good at connecting people to resources, or people to people. We have more variety in our schedule typically, which would allow us to bounce around to different communities to see how they are doing. One thing that sticks out to me in this however is, could the librarian be a leader, but also apart of one of these learning communities? If I see myself as a teacher, shouldn’t I also be able to partake in the sharing of experiences and knowledge? Is the librarians role only to arrange and lead the various groups without partaking? Not that I mind either way… but as we’ve been talking about this whole wanting to be viewed as a teacher too, I’ve started to ask questions like these…

Chapter 1 of Growing Schools: Librarians as Professional Developers struck a chord with me. The Exploratorum! Yes! Play with technology! Yes! Learn something new! Yes! Time made in the day for all of that! Yes!! I loved this idea of letting teachers play. Teachers are learners after all, and learners should play. I loved that the author and her colleague’s recognized the need of the teachers, and how they like to learn new technology and worked with that. It gave everyone choice, time, and I think deeper authenticity to their PD. Personally, I love learning this way. I don’t really absorb a whole lot if someone is talking at me. I get more out of hands on, tinkering experiences.

Lastly, Bilyeu discusses the idea of Lesson Study which is from a Japanese practice in schools where the teachers are given a day to plan a lesson, teach it, and then reflect on how it went after. From there the lesson can be tweaked and retaught. Bilyeau talks about how this type of professional development practice has become common in a district in Oregon. Teachers and librarians work collaboratively to build a lesson plan. This type of professional development has helped teachers see how the school librarian can help, and also has created richer reflection on lessons than what was previously done. This idea reminded me a lot of co-teaching, and how we were discussing what “collaboration” really means. The librarian and teacher are there together from start to finish helping each other. I think it’s a great example of collaborative work.

P.S. Our last blog post together for this class…I can’t believe it! Thank you so much for giving me a safe and welcoming space to express my thoughts, questions, and musings. Learning is hard, and sharing your current thoughts before they’re fully formed is hard too, but you all made it a tiny bit easier. You’ll all be wonderful librarians and teacher-librarians no matter where you end up. Thanks so much for a wonderful semester of learning!

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One thought on “Professional Development

  1. leafinglight says:

    As you might guess, I am also in favor of teacher play time. However, I am recognizing the challenge with getting this to actually work will be making a case for its value. How can we justify to teachers and administrators that a day or afternoon spent letting teachers play around with a fun new tool or concept is as productive (or more so) than a day of staff meetings, analysis of test data, or a thousand other things they could be doing. I’m curious to hear your response.

    To answer my own question, I think it’s probably about your value statements. Do you want your teachers to be creative, adventurous, and willing to try something new? Are these things more important than their knowledge of the upcoming year’s test revisions? These are conversations that should be had before moving forward with major structural changes to professional development times.

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