Blog Series: Personalizing Professional Development, Part 2

What can be gained if teachers receive the same level of personalization in their professional development that we attempt to deliver to students in their learning? I posed this question in my October blog, when I introduced the One World Teacher Fellowship and its goal of helping teachers to develop and test best practices to improve research and writing skills.

Responses were robust and varied. I was disheartened by some school leaders, who felt that personalizing teacher training neglected the greater community and deemphasized a wider school culture. However, a number of teachers also expressed appreciation for value being placed on areas they identified as opportunities for growth.

While I agreed with many of the teachers’ responses, my concern before we launched the Teacher Fellowship was asking them to do more than they already do. However, during the first four months of the Fellowship, I’ve learned that there can be great value in asking for the “right” kind of more.

As One World Teacher Fellows, DC teachers from public and charter schools are testing classroom practices to improve specific areas of their own professional development. The Fellowship’s goal is that these teacher-created (and teacher-led) case studies will not only generate improved learning outcomes for their students, but that their findings will be shared for implementation by their colleagues. In October I introduced the work of two Fellows, Ms. Dozier at Anacostia High School in DC Public Schools (DCPS), and Mr. Fadhal, who teaches middle school at EL Haynes Public Charter School. You can learn about their case studies in the October blog, Part 1.

In Part 2 of this Blog Series, I want to highlight the work of two more Fellows. Clare Berke is a veteran DCPS teacher and ELA Department Chair at Banneker High School. Using the One World Program, Ms. Berke’s students have shown statistically significant gains in research and writing skills for two straight years. She felt the Fellowship would help elevate her work to the next level, and she is studying the impact on students’ writing when teachers share different amounts of research resources. She will present her findings next month at the Symposium on Preparing College-Ready Writers.

Another Fellow, who is new to Wilson High School but not One World Education, is Jennifer Brown. Eager to deepen her students’ skills as editors, and weighing her feedback commitments to more than 100 student writers, Ms. Brown is studying the effect on student writing outcomes of using different systems of teacher- and student-led feedback. As the theme of providing timely and quality feedback is a topic that every Fellow identified as unresolved, we know that many people are sure to be interested in hearing her present the findings and recommendations at next month’s Symposium.

After six months of watching teachers study and develop their own practice through the One World Teacher Fellowship, I firmly believe that providing teachers with personalized learning opportunities is an idea whose time has come. If you agree, or if you want to learn more, please join me on February 8th for the annual Symposium on Preparing College-Ready Writers. Register here.

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