Caroline uses Twitter to connect experienced teachers with schools who appreciate their expertise so that students from low-income communities can benefit. Last week, she suggested that I craft a post about professional development for teachers who work in low-income schools, and ironically, a regional opportunity is taking shape here that might provide a bit of inspiration.
Several weeks ago, Scott McLeod shared a compelling four-part series of posts titled Beware the Outside Consultants, and as I read it, I couldn’t help but question once again what it means to be an expert in this field. We tend to throw the words “best practices” around with wild abandon, and yet, those I consider my colleagues and friends often challenge the existence of such things. What makes something a best practice? Who has the right to assert themselves as authorities in the field? More importantly, who am I to suggest what type of professional development might be best for teachers of kids who live and work in places far away from where I do?
I guess I feel uncomfortable making any assumptions, and I think that all consultants should. There are reasons why need’s assessments are given, peer-review is recommended, and rigorous program evaluation is valued. Experts who don’t subject themselves to quality assurance measures like these can’t truly call what they do best practice can they? I’m hoping that becoming an authority in the field requires much more than being popular these days, but I’m not so sure it does, and in light of that, I hesitate to make a lot of recommendations when I’m asked to name “experts” of “best practices.”
I think we all have a place at the table. We all have expertise to share, and it’s a wonderful thing when educators can come together to do exactly that. Are you familiar with unconferencing? Have you explored the Teachmeet wiki? If the idea of sharing what you’re passionate about and learning from others who have something valuable to contribute excites you, then this professional development model might hold promise. It’s something I’m happy to get behind, and in fact, I intend to!
Planning is underway for a WNY Teachmeet, which will be held this spring in or around Rochester, New York. If you’d like to get in on the ground floor and help in the planning of this event, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Gene Gordon and I are planning to get together with a group of very interested local educators to begin conceptualizing this event on February 15th, and we’d love to have you there.
I’m all for leveraging the best of what teachers and administrators have to offer, and I’m hoping that we can invite some other expert voices into the conversation as well…..student voices. I don’t know if this is the sort of response you were looking for Caroline, but I hope it provided you a new idea or two. Let me know, and thanks for getting me thinking!