My school is currently trialing and evaluating different forms and modes of professional development. I did some reading to gain perspectives on how to evaluate the effectiveness of professional development.
I read two articles about PD evaluation, both by Thomas Guskey, who seems to have made this his academic niche.
Article 1: What Works in Professional Development?
Abstract of “What works in Professional Development“: A research synthesis confirms the difficulty of translating professional development into student achievement gains despite the intuitive and logical connection. Those responsible for planning and implementing professional development must learn how to critically assess and evaluate the effectiveness of what they do.” You can read the article with detailed comments by a broad group of educators here: https://kami.app/J15eQMqxFzOk.
While this article is interesting, it is also questionable because its quite considerable conclusions seems to rest from just 9 ‘valid’ studies. All the other studies were dismissed because of problems with the methodology. So; it is too hard to do valid studies into the efficacy of Professional Development and its impact on student outcomes? Can we make any statements about the impact of PD on student outcomes? Jenny Gore would say she has evidence for the effectiveness of the Quality teaching rounds model.
- What Works in Professional Development?
Guskey, Thomas R.; Yoon, Kwang Suk
Phi Delta Kappan, v90 n7 p495-500 Mar 2009
https://tguskey.com/wp-content/uploads/Professional-Learning-5-What-Works-in-Professional-Development.pdf Accessed 29/02/20 (back)
I have really enjoyed reading Jim Knight’s “Better Conversations”. It is inspirational in the way it makes you mindful of what we do all day: Talk. We talk at, about, with and to each other. We all know how great it feels to have a truly wonderful, productive and invigorating conversation. What if more of our conversations could be even better? Knight provides some common sense approaches, but to call it ‘common sense’ is unfair because if having great conversations is common sense and easy, then why do we have bad/unproductive conversations, or conversations which could have been better?
I picked the 5 chapters I found most interesting and relevant, and used the mindmaps Knight provides at the beginning of each chapter as my guide to form my own notes and understanding. For this I used the software package MindJet Mindmanager, which our school provides for our students and created this mindmap overview: Better conversations Jim Knight (also see below)
- Better conversations (Ch1)
- The Better Conversations Beliefs (Ch 2)
- Ask better questions to foster inquiry (Ch5)
- Redirecting toxic words and emotions (Ch8)
- Building Trust (Ch9)
My key takeaways: Continue reading
I had heard of the 20/80 rule, but had never really looked into it deeply. It’s such a great strategy for teachers in many ways. Basically: “Find out what is vital, ignore what is trivial, and you can maximize results.” When making a to do list (which I do often), identify the top 20% and focus on finishing those off first. Here is a distillation of my reading and understanding (all links provided) : Continue reading
- https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2015/10/01/the-80-20-rule (back)
I believe that every History teacher should read Professor Jeffery Nokes’ well-written paper on “Recognizing and Addressing the Barriers to Adolescents’
“Reading Like Historians”. He makes a very strong argument for creating a learning and questioning culture that is more like the actual discipline of History, rather than just uncritically rote learning and accepting what is in a textbook. Nokes’ research is firmly rooted in real classroom practice, which makes it all the more powerful and easier to apply practically.
Below you will find my highlighted sections and summary of the article. There is also a very clear overview table that lists the four barriers to “Reading like a Historian” and some suggestions as to how to overcome these barriers.