Just wondering about PD booster shots

As we are planning for professional development opportunities for next year, here is one of my big take-aways. Sorry if it is too basic, but I am a firm believer that sometimes simple solutions can bring some meaningful changes. Schools spend lots of money on professional development and we constantly think of what are the best options to make the learning stick. Of course, schools may have some external requirements. For instance, IB schools have to train their Diploma teachers when the courses change. This is fair enough and schools have learned how to plan for those required costs that can represent a good chunk of their budget. But schools may also have the options to do some professional development with external consultants and with their in-house specialists. While those two ways of offering professional development represent drastic financial differences, we can note that both types need something absolutely crucial: the booster shots. When we work with consultants or in-house specialists, the one shot experience is usually not the best use of time and money. Schools who can afford it have modified their approach working with consultants for a few years now. They have internalised that flying in an external consultant for a few days to work with the learning community has limited long term learning impacts but it represents big sums of money. So, schools and consultants have developed long-term partnerships for more durable learning impacts. The financial and time commitment is usually bigger but the results are more long-lasting. Now that we have tools that allow us to connect with people everywhere in the world, the partnerships may include not only physical visits to schools but also video-conferencing, webinars and so forth.

For in-house professional development, it needs to be the same. In High School, this year, our goals are connected to three main concepts: collaboration, communication and instruction. Some of our targeted in-house professional development opportunities are about developing strategies to support our learners with specific needs and our English language learners. Of course, we started the year with professional development offered by our awesome in-house specialists, but it was crucial for us to think about ways for us to give them some more time. Some booster shots. To maintain the sense of urgency. To keep working together. To model this idea that we all learn every day. To confirm that, together, we are simply better than on our own. And, in fine, for all our learners to keep growing with our support. Therefore, this concept of booster shots is essential for all kinds of professional development and time must be allocated to do this regularly. Otherwise the good intentions and the benefits one time workshops may just get lost in the day-to-day school life.

For what it’s worth…

About Fred Bordaguibel-Labayle

Frederic Bordaguibel-Labayle is the High School Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador. Fred was born and raised in the southwest of France; he finished his studies and started teaching in the UK, then went on to Istanbul and he is currently in Quito. Fred likes to pause, reflect, and share his experience as an international educator and administrator.
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