You may read this title and be totally lost in where this post is going. The idea behind this post is to enlighten education to what and when PD needs to take place. Education has a very ineffecient system that eats up time, money, and space. There are ways that we can improve this, and I will help to shine some light on that area.



Conferences
I am referring events where thousands of people congregate to an event and are packed into sessions where they listen to someone show you how to do something. This all too often takes on the bulk of the learning for teachers. These events can have upsides to them, but the majority of the learning is for null. Here are the downsides to conferences, when you read the list, please think honestly about the last event you attended:
  • It is very costly
  • The sessions are almost exclusively set and get. Little to no interaction actually takes place during this time. This in turn equals surface level learning.
  • After the conference, what did you actually change in your teaching practice? 

Software Updating Comparison
There are two modes of updating in this section and I will tag them with brands of software to give you some context. I am simply going to make correlations between how these brands update their software, to how education needs to update their teachers. 
  1. The Microsoft Model
    • This model is the one that we most typically see in education. PD/learning takes place at certain intervals throughout the year. They are spaced out so that teachers have time to learn, digest, and repeat. Some schools even host PD only after an issue arise! This model also focuses on large chunks of learning. Rather than piece out the task over time, the learning is bulked into one session or one year and pounded at staff.
  2. The Google Model
    • This model reflects how Google runs their updates. When is the last time you were prompted by Google to update the entire system? (the answer is never). PD run in this fashion is continuously going. It is happening with individuals, small groups, but rarely in mass setting. These sessions are small, bit size chunks, that over time, equal a greater goal. The most important thing about this model is that it is customizable! Your teachers get out of it what they need to, vs you forcing demands onto them.
How do you Make the Google Model?
  1. Highlight Local Talent - I cannot stress it enough how important it is to empower those who have the ability. They will be able to do more than you ever imagined, and they already have rapport and street cred with your staff... What more do I need to say!
  2. Don't Wait for the Update - Being proactive and breaking out learning chunks is not easy, but it is an essential element of this model. Bring many stakeholders to the group and create a plan that does not require mass scale uniformity.
  3. Flex Learning Spaces - If you properly piece out your work, you will find that you can sometimes replace learning sessions with a video, or even an email to staff. Be smart about how you work!
  4. Interact! - Sit and get sessions are done. These explicit learning moments need to happen very rarely in education.  We need to personalize learning so that teachers can take ownership of the material.