As educators in West Vancouver we are focussing on our Professional Growth Plans for this year. These provide the framework that guide our professional learning in the areas we would like to further develop, challenge or investigate. As we carefully reflect on our current practice, we try to select goals that will best meet the needs of our students. As our professional development days are fast approaching, administrators have the opportunity to implement learning for staff that can improve the teaching and learning in the school as a whole. Professional development days are a valuable chance for teachers to collaborate, critically question and move their professional practice forward with new and engaging strategies, while also having the opportunity to feel confident that their teaching is pedagogically sound.
The British Columbia Teacher Federation states that professional development “is considered to be a process of personal growth through programs, services and activities designed to enable members, individually or collectively, to enhance professional practice.” This Friday, I look forward to collaborating with teachers in professional development workshops on effectively using the district Dashboards in the classroom. This is a tool that will enhance the education of our students as learning connections and networks are formed in forums where students can support, guide and teach one another in a online collaborative manner. As the educators of 21st Century learners we understand that learning comes from everywhere. Helping students to tap into the knowledge of classmates through blogging about areas of study, is a key piece in our educational puzzle. Through increased use of technology in the classroom, students are empowered to take their learning further by building on the knowledge that is being presented by their peers. This interactive method of communicating allows students to inquire into the topics discussed in class, taking their learning outside the walls of the school and opening the dialogue for a more encompassing learning experience.
Over my years as a teacher I have attended a number of excellent PD workshops that have changed the manner in which I teach. In Tokyo last year our school invited two well respected educators in Inquiry learning to lead us in three day math and literacy workshops. These workshops challenged our current practice and broadened our understandings of how to teach conceptually. Kath Murdoch states, “While this ‘scaffolding’ process has been accepted for many years, we are becoming aware of the need for teachers to articulate it much more explicitly to students. This conscious ‘spotlighting’ of thinking provides a very exciting and challenging layer to the work teachers and students do in an inquiry.” This transformed the teaching of many of our staff members with the long term benefit of enhancing student learning.
So, this Friday through professional development, we will continue to challenge and further develop our craft in the name of professional growth so that we may deepen the learning of the children we teach. As we identify and explore our current practice, we have the opportunity to make mindful changes and improvements in our classrooms and schools. Reflective teaching provides the base of our professional growth and thereby guides us on the journey of fulfilling our potential as educators.