Practice, then, both shapes and supports learning. We wouldn’t need to labor this point so heavily were it not that unenlightened teaching and training often pulls in the opposite direction. -Brown & Duguid, 2000, p. 129
Far too much teacher professional development happens in a way that is isolated from the very practice of teaching. We go away to conferences, or an “expert” is brought in to our school and regular classes cease for a few days so we can all go into a separate place to “learn.”
… all of which is fine and good (don’t tell me you’ve never breathed a sigh of relief knowing that you won’t have to teach two days this week), but if learning is to be authentic, shouldn’t it happen in context? So why are we learning how to be competent, well-rounded professionals outside the contexts of our classrooms? Where is the professional development that involves being in my classroom? Where is the professional development that happens alongside — or as part of — my teaching?
Where is the social learning that happens within the context of a teaching practice?
I’m by no means advocating we get rid of in-house professional development or stand-alone conferences altogether. I just wonder: what would the professional development landscape look like if we were consistently involved in learning that involved our teaching practice?
What would our teaching practice look like?
What would our learning look like?
What would our students’ learning look like?
Brown, J.S., & Duguid, P. (2000). The social life of information. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.