Isolated No More

Pedagogical theory keeps advancing over the years.  It is an unfortunate fact of teaching that, once in the classroom, teachers are very isolated and insulated.  I cannot think of another profession where there is so little opportunity to observe how others pursue similar objectives.  Likewise, that isolation has meant that there has been little or no competitive pressure to improve performance, at least until recently.

School administered professional development (PD) time has diminished over the years, squeezed between budget pressures and the teachers’ union.  This is really a shame. The children would be much better served if three elements that are currently dormant or near dormant were re-emphasized. 

First, PD time should be re-established in an important position in the school year.  This should include several full days of various meaningful trainings prior to the year’s start as well as shorter, “quick hits” throughout the year.  Second, teachers should have much more opportunity to visit other classrooms, within their school, within their district, and even (or especially) in other schools with entirely different philosophies.  Finally, the existing benefits/requirements for continuing education are good, but teaching is such a broad and evolving activity that more emphasis would no doubt be beneficial.

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