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Designing Professional Development

author: Maryellen Harmon, Alfred Manaster
presented at: 1998 LSC PI/Evaluator Meeting
published: 01/24/1998
posted to site: 10/21/1998

Designing Professional Development

Maryellen Harmon and Alfred Manaster
Friday 8:30-9:45 a.m.

How can we get Professional Development to work?

MH requested that tables work on the questions of the second slide. Each "recorder" took down 3 main ideas per table. All of these ideas were gathered in. Only a single idea was presented per table.

The following ideas were given by table discussion groups:

  1. Good professional development activities must occur in a rich intellectual and social environment. It is more than just "good material." Do for teachers what we do for students.

  2. Teachers need to see lessons like that in classrooms with real students.

  3. We need to reflect on what makes the lesson work. We need time for reflection on what decisions were made and what made them good. And then take the time to apply these elements to our lessons.

  4. The time is right to tell people we know the secret of what is happening in Japan and that it is not a coincidence. People are ready to hear it. We need to invest energy in talking to administrators, principals, and parents that there is a way. There is an answer, an answer which won't destroy their schools.

  5. It's not a matter of finding isolated discreet activities (even if they work) that work, but to know how they complement each other. They need to fit together; reflections, planning opportunities to translate them to students, etc. We need a coordinated effort.

  6. Developing a community of inquiry for teachers in order to recognize the knowledge that they have and may develop. Developing a community of support, where they can recognize the math and science knowledge that they have and that they want to develop more. Teachers need to poke holes in some of the expert posturing.

  7. Modeling: Going into the classroom and modeling these behaviors. Letting teachers reflect on it, practice it, do it and get videotaped, reflect. Then go ahead and do it again.

  8. The linear model is not the only model. We need creativity. We need to support people who regard teaching as a profession, who construct and reconstruct their craft.

  9. Need for connecting content and pedagogy knowledge to students. Need for a scenario based curriculum.

  10. Importance of building a structure that supports this. Restructuring what professional development means. We are limited until this is done as We need the time and resources, though.

  11. Higher expectations matter in what you are doing. We need to collect and analyze what students do in their classrooms. We need to study how knowledge develops and study how students responses to problems, and work curriculum around that.

  12. Develop professional development that allows teachers to become involved invested in and own the reformed classrooms. We need to see what problems, solutions, that teachers see, and what kinds of solutions they wish to implement.

  13. Establish and ensure a consistent policy environment which supports and recognizes good practice.

  14. Surface versus deep structure of lessons. US habit of having projects heavily and for a short time versus Japanese ???.

  15. Japanese classroom is not as divers urban classes. Need to create classes of mutual respect (as was the case in the Japanese classroom).

  16. Structuring professional development for teachers to work with each other to develop local uniformity; similar content and pedagogy.

  17. Have teachers practice being "Japanese teachers." Give teachers theorem and ask: How are you going to develop the concept? How will you apply it? Where will it go? Transitions from activity to activity? Work with colleagues. Think about it ahead of time.

  18. Teachers have to have content confidence, especially at the elementary level. We need a vertical model where lower grade teachers can see where this content goes.

  19. To recognize that what we create in professional development must be what teachers should do.

    AM: Research mathematicians and scientists aren't much in these communities. Both scientists and teachers must feel that they are contributing something very powerful.

    MH: Students and teachers must be allowed to make mistakes. Shift to student directed classroom lessons.