Professional Development and Professional Learning #miamidevice

Simply processing through writing…

Sitting in Adam Bellow’s session this morning discussing “professional development”, I tweeted the following:

As he used the term “professional development” and the conversation centred around how to make it more meaningful, I thought about the term “professional learning” and these are thoughts that stuck out in my brain.

  1. Professional development is something done to me, while professional learning is something I do for myself (which was reiterated by several people on Twitter).
  2. Professional development seems to be more connected to an “event” (conference) or an objective, where as professional learning is ongoing.
  3. The feelings the term professional development invoke something negative (for me) as opposed to the positive thoughts that professional learning invokes.

Now I am not sharing these as absolute truths, but thoughts.  The thing that is essential to understand is that we have shared goals in schools, and time to provide for development in those areas are crucial. But the other aspect that I have been thinking about is do we provide time for our own professional learning?  This is not only about what we are learning, but more importantly how we are learning it.

This is a great analogy from Seymour Papert:

If I wanted to become a better carpenter, I’d go find a good carpenter, and I’ll work with this carpenter on doing carpentry or making things. And that’s how I’ll get to be a better carpenter. So if I want to be a better learner, I’ll go find somebody who’s a good learner and with this person do some learning. But this is the opposite of what we do in our schools. We don’t allow the teacher to do any learning. We don’t allow the kids to have the experience of learning with the teacher because that’s incompatible with the concept of the curriculum where what is being taught is what’s already known.

If educators are going to develop in their profession, we must ensure that we see our own growth as continuous, as opposed to a singular event. It is not about the terms or terminology, as much as it is about the process, but as educators, if we only focus on the product, and not the individual process, we probably won’t create those opportunities for our students to learn beyond the “event” of school.

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