Sunday, February 27, 2011

PD Days & Collegiality

One of the bugbears of PD days is the difficulty of engaging 60-70 university trained professionals of widely diverse interests, usually during times of high stress with timelines bearing down on you.

One idea is to use this time for learning area planning. This is usually unsuccessful and the planning time instead used for a wide variety of other tasks (general discussion, marking, personal planning). Why?

Some suggested reasons:
a) No deliverables are defined
b) Time frame for deliverables are unrealistic, ill defined or aspirational
c) Require sharing of resources that are thought of as proprietary (such as programmes developed in own time)
d) Require interaction between staff members that are oppositional
e) Processes are poorly lead and easily high jacked
f) Deliverables are not measured
g) No consequences for not meeting deliverables

Most of these are just indicators of poor school based management but many are problems that have arisen due to systemic ineptness. The lack of collegiality is a growing phenomenon that is occurring as competitiveness between teachers for promotional positions is rising and teaching moves from a vocational profession to an occupation. If schools do not actually manage the transfer of information and the information loss as teachers move between positions and schools, the school loses knowledge and effectiveness (especially cohort or area knowledge) with each transfer. Teachers tend to gain knowledge working in schools such as ours (on their path to effective teaching in low SES schools) rather than the other way around. Those entering these schools can encounter strong resistance to new ideas (especially if it is thought the ideas have been tried before), underestimate implementation issues or be unwilling to share until quid-pro-quo is found.

It should also be recognised that with the rapid changes in syllabus, the ability for a school to develop a working curriculum (that can be further developed over a number of years) has been made significantly harder. The weight of curriculum development has been placed on many occasions in the hands of the incompetent through no fault of their own (teaching out of area, beginning teachers, sole practitioners rather than team members, those lacking analytical skills but are fantastic teachers, administration staff that cannot measure effectiveness of a programme etc)

PD days are one opportunity to stop this information loss but it needs people that can define clearly a task to be done that would serve a real long term purpose and then measure the effectiveness of it. It is just another aspect of change management.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi, thanks for leaving a comment.. it's good to hear what people think!