|Posted by Charles Fischer on September 16, 2010 at 5:56 AM|
Here's a recent report on the status of professional development in the United States. There were many key findings, but what I found significant was the conclusion that teachers were not receiving enough contact hours focusing on specific areas. Here's an excerpt:
However, the intensity of the professional development has declined in most of these areas. The report found significant increases in the percentage of teachers who report having received short-term professional development (8 hours or less) across key areas and decreases in those reporting longer-term professional development.
Analysis of a broad range of studies indicates that the kind of sustained professional development that increases student learning requires between 49 and 100 hours of contact on a single professional development focus. However, the report notes that in most areas, teachers were receiving less than 8 hours of training on a given topic, and the average reported number of hours of professional development in the United States was only about 44 hours combined across all six topic areas.
I know in my own experience that many of my contact hours were one-off workshops of the "Mary Poppins" variety, meaning that someone popped in to deliver a quick workshop and then popped out again. Without follow-up, coaching and collaboration, I found many of the workshops I attended did not impact my teaching practice. Here's a sampling of some those contact hours:
And there are many others that I can't even remember.
When I think about the professional development experiences that have significantly impacted my teaching, they have almost all been 20 hours or more:
I could only think of three exceptions under 20 hours: Richard Lavoie's amazing, amazing video F.A.T. City (2 hours), Bill Hubert's incredible Bal-A-Vis-X (15 hours) workshop and a John Collins Writing System Workshop (2 hours) that changed the way I think about and assign writing.
49-100 hours (or at least 20 in my experience) of targeted training is a lot of investment, but not if we want teachers to have meaningful and engaging professional development experiences that truly change their teaching practices.