NSDC and conversations

I just finished reading “Standards For Staff Development” by the National Staff Development Council (NSDC). The last revised edition (from what I can find) was in 2001. After reading the document I went back and read David Warlick’s post OK, No More Staff Development and my own remix of that conversation.

Let me highlight a few NSDC’s recommendations:

Learning Communities: … increasing numbers of participants use electronic means such as e-mail, listservs, and bulletin boards to communicate between meetings or as a substitute for meetings. Such virtual networks can provide important sources of information and knowledge as well as the interpersonal support required to persist over time in changing complex schoolwide or classroom practices.

Could we ad blogs, wikis, and forums to this list?

Leadership: All leaders make use of various electronic tools to support their learning and make their work more efficient. They use e-mail, listservs, bulletin boards, Internet, and other electronic means to communicate, locate research and other useful information, and seek assistance in problem solving. They enlist other electronic tools to organize and schedule their work, produce and share documents, and increase their accessibility to colleagues, parents, and community members. Skillful leaders are familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of various electronic learning processes for themselves and others and make certain these processes are appropriately matched to individual and organizational goals.

How many school leaders understand technology on this level?

Resources: To these ends, NSDC advocates that school districts dedicate at least ten percent of their budgets to staff development and that at least 25 percent of an educator’s work time be devoted to learning and collaboration with colleagues.

How many schools actually do this?

Because technology purchases have increased dramatically in many school districts during the past decade, often with little attention given to the development of teachers’ abilities to use the technology, NSDC advocates that at least 30 percent of the technology budget be devoted to teacher development in this area. Without opportunities to learn, plan, and practice what they have learned, district investments in technology will fail to produce the intended benefits for students.

How many schools do this?

Design: They are also often unaware that training sessions and coursework must include numerous live or video models of new instructional strategies, demonstrations in teachers’ classrooms, and coaching or other forms of follow-up if those strategies are to become a routine part of teachers’ instructional repertoire.

How do you design your staff development?

For instance, while awareness of new ideas may be achieved through large group presentations, that approach alone is unlikely to lead to changes in teaching practice. An extended summer institute with follow-up sessions throughout the school year will deepen teachers’ content knowledge and is likely to have the desired effect. A two-hour after-school work- shop will not achieve that goal.

How does your school allocate time for staff development?

Technology provides a useful tool for accessing various means of professional learning. It provides for the individualization of teacher and administrator learning through the use of CD-ROMs, e-mail, the Internet, and other distance learning processes. Technology enables educators to follow their unique learning goals within the context of schoolwide staff development plans. They may download lesson plans, conduct research on a particular topic, or compare their students’ work with that of students in other schools or even other countries who are participating in similar lessons. Technology also makes it possible for teachers to form virtual learning communities with educators in schools throughout the country and around the world. For example, teachers may become members of online subject-area networks, take online courses, and contribute to action research projects being done in various locations around the country.

I think more teachers would do this if they had the time (see Resources above)

Learning: Electronic forms of learning may prove particularly helpful in providing alternatives that respond to differences in learning styles and availability due to life stage issues. Staff development content may be accessed via the Internet or other forms of distance technology that will enable learning throughout the day in various settings using media that appeals to different learning preferences.

If it works for teaching teachers, could it work for teaching students?

Collaboration: While collaborative, face-to-face professional learning and work are the hallmarks of a school culture that assumes collective responsibility for student learning, technology will increasingly provide a means for new and different forms of collaboration. Technology will enable teachers and administrators from around the country and world to share ideas, strategies, and tools with one another in ways that will dramatically increase the number of collaborative links among educators. But electronic forms of such work will also present teachers and administrators with new challenges whose outlines are only becoming dimly visible as larger numbers of educators begin to use these processes to strengthen their teaching and leadership practices.

Did they just describe the blogosphere?

All in all there are 12 standards in the document. Technology is mentioned in 6 of them and is inferred in others.

Is there anything here we don’t already know? The NSDC states this as their goal:

All teachers in all schools will experience high-quality professional learning as part of their daily work by 2007

In case you forgot it’s 2006!