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Brendan Murphy - Changing Nature of PD

Brendan Murphy - Changing Nature of PD

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Published by: Classroom 2.0 Book on Aug 13, 2012
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The Changing Nature of ProfessionalDevelopment
Brendan Murphy
Creative Commons License:
Author contact:
Author Biography:
Brendan Murphy is aneducation specialist currently working as a Mathspecialist in a middle school in Waukegan Illinois.I enjoy writing at my blog
m, learning from my PLNon Twitter @dendari, and organizing professional learning opportunities for my fellowteachers.
Activity Summary
 Applying adult learning theory to teacher professional development. How technology andthe transformation of education in the classroom can transfer into our own learning. Waysto deemphasize a single presenter with a single point of view and increase the emphasis oncollaborative learning.
Class or subject area: Teacher professional development.Grade level(s):
Specifc learning objectives:
Improving professional development
Increasing participation from teachers
Improving professionalism among teachers
For as long as there have been teachers there have been complaints about the poor nature of professional development. While I believe that a certain percentage of these complaints is noise tomake noise that does not rule out the possibility that we might be able to do things differently. Wemight be able to do things better.
aspects of the lesson is usually differentiation. Are we presenting the material to be learned in such away that it is accessible to all the students in the room? Is presenting even the right word for what weshould be doing? When we evaluate our teaching, we not our principals, we usually ask ourselves,did the students learn what I tried to teach?Is this what is being done in our own professional development? Are we learning what is beingtaught? Is it being presented to us in a way we can understand?For most teachers the mention of professional development elicits groans. Complaints abound of boring presentations and out of date information. Even worse are the veterans who complain of therepeating cycle of professional development days.Many teachers will tell similar stories, as new administrators enter a building or district they pushtheir favored professional development or philosophy of teaching. The answer for the ailing school.The solution that will make our school the most amazing school in the world. The transformationmodel that works. It seems that the majority of professional development is destined to be wasted onteachers who just don’t see the point.Interestingly enough while anecdotal evidence of professional development would lead one to believethat all professional development days are lectures by highly paid, and often horrible, presenters, thelist of professional development options found on Wikipedia paints a different story.The list of professional development options found on Wikipedia April 17, 2012 (
Case Study Method
Communities of Practice
Lesson Study
Technical Assistance Are any of these methods meant to be delivered as a lecture? Perhaps the problem is we justremember the bad.
How we learn
I am one of those people who does extremely well in the “typical” school setting. If you sit me downand tell me what is important I will take notes, shove the information into a short term memory, (itwill only last about 4-8 weeks) then I can take and pass a multiple choice test. If I had ever done any
homework I would have had straight A’s in school. On the otherhand If I want to retain the informationI either need to use it on a regular basis or learn in a different method.For example when I decided to get serious and learn to use a computer in 1995 I bought an IBM386 and brought a friend over to show off my new toy. At the time we lived in San Diego and thereseemed to be a computer parts shop on every street corner. He took me to one of these stores andpointed out the Pentium chips. Telling me that was so much better than the junk I had bought.Well the next day I bought a Pentium 75 chip. It was cheaper than the computer I had bought theweek before. I brought the chip home and invited my friend over to help me upgrade my computer.What I didn’t know was that a pentium chip is not compatible with the rest of the 386 computer.Basically if I wanted to upgrade the computer I would have to replace everything but the case andthe power supply. So I did. I bought all of the parts and invited this same friend back to help me put ittogether.I should have known better, he didn’t know how to do that either. Here we were with about $2,000worth of computer parts and no idea how to put it all together as a working computer. It never crossed
was where it belonged. The hard part was loading the operating system. It took a while, but we goteverything put together and working.
that I could learn and do anything with technology. A few years later with a Master’s degree ineducation in hand I started a computer club after school. I took apart a bunch of old donatedcomputers and separated the pieces into boxes. I gave the boxes to my students and told them if theycould put together some computers we would play video games and then put the computers into theclassrooms all except one which one student would take home.What does my experience from a decade ago have to do with learning and the changing natureof professional development? First, when pressed to learn in a new skill I didn’t buy a book and
computer. Third, my learning experience was so powerful I was ready to reproduce the same learningexperience for my own 4th grade students just a few years later. These to me are the keys to adultlearning, some might even say all learning.The Theory of Andragogy, or how adults want to be self-directed, autonomous learners, emphasizessome keys points from my story:
Learning needs to be self directed
We must draw from our reservoir of experiences
We need to solve real life problems
The work should be performance centered
I need to have an idea of when, where, and how I will apply this in the near future
 Adults are intrinsically motivated

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