Effective PD in a time of budget cutting

Browse through the latest issue of Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook (Spring 2009), published by Education Week and Teacher Magazine, and you’ll find a number of Teacher Leaders Network Forum members providing commentary and expertise on the theme Charting Effective Professional Development in Tough Times.

The lead article, “Reinventing Professional Development in Tough Times,” includes quotes and perspectives from TLN founding member Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, a popular presenter on 21st century learning topics, who believes that “the growth of interactive Web technology fits in perfectly with the current professional development environment because it can reduce costs, and it’s the way schools should be moving anyway.”

TLN’er and Teacher Magazine blogger Anthony Cody authors the article, “Putting Teachers in the Driver’s Seat,” which carries the tag: “a professional development coach says teachers themselves are the best PD resource.” Cody recommends several teacher-driven PD ideas that don’t have high price tags, including Lesson Study and collaborative teacher research. The common theme: teacher leadership. Of course!

In “Bring on the Books,” reading maven Donalyn Miller describes the PD power of  book-study groups driven by the professional interests of teachers. Donalyn, author of The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, provides all the tips and additional resources you’ll need to launch a professional book club or study group of your own.

One of the new Sourcebook’s centerpieces is an interview with TLN member Dayle Timmons, former Florida Teacher of the Year and a teacher/coach at Chets Creek Elementary in Jacksonville. The teaser for the article reads: “A distinguished educator describes her school’s resourceful and collaborative culture of teacher learning.” The introduction goes on to say:

A passionate advocate of ongoing professional development, Timmons keeps a highly-respected blog, Timmons Times, that provides a glimpse into the life of a school in which teachers are virtually immersed in collaborative learning activities. She writes about teacher wikis, video-lesson studies, weekly classroom-tech tutorials, grade-level working sessions, book clubs, and more. Her school, she says, has developed “a supportive, caring, risk-taking kind of environment where people [feel] comfortable to grow and learn and make mistakes.”

Dayle begins the Sourcebook interview with a statement that’s sure to win hearts and minds: “Our philosophy is that professional development should be embedded within the day. It shouldn’t be something that we have to do outside of the school day or that has nothing to do with what we’re actually teaching.”

In addition to these TLN-related articles, the Sourcebook offers a news story on the promise and problems of online professional development, a commentary by Tamara Fisher on budget-minded PD for teachers of the gifted, a list of PD websites that are particularly content-rich, and a strategic guide to writing grant proposals (“Got Grants?”) that can bring additional PD dollars into your education community.