Professional Development 2.0 (yes it can evolve)

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An educator's recent Facebook status:

I'm quarantined at home with the pink eye. My wife avoids me like I'm a leper and I want to scratch my eye out. On the other hand, I get to miss this month's faculty meeting.

Wow - sounds like fun, huh?  Fortunately, the story on professional development is evolving. We're hoping to see districts use data from the more sensitive evaluation tools coming on line now to personalize PD for their teachers. But already, teachers are driving new, creative forms of PD. After years of sitting in school media centers watching PowerPoint presentations about one-size-fits all approaches to improving instruction, teachers are finding and building opportunities to work collaboratively instead.

Teachers are participating in Twitter discussions and starting their own local cohorts. They are participating in Edcamps, types of 'unconferences' where the participants customize the agenda to fit their needs. Blogs and social media have become the new venues for sharing ideas and discussing challenges. Teachers want professional development that meets their individual needs and the needs of their students and these new forums allow for that type of customization.

To any educator unfamiliar with these approaches, we say-give it a shot. Not surprisingly at all, research points to teacher collaboration improving teacher performance. And perhaps someday the phrase PD won't evoke groans and eye-rolls.

-- Stephanie Zoz