Why bother with professional learning and development (PLD)?

By Michael Absolum on March 27, 2012 in Leadership

Have you been on the net recently? Silly question. Of course you have. Have you used the web to learn stuff? Used Google to learn about a holiday destination? Used LinkedIn to find someone who can help you? Used YouTube to learn how to play the guitar? Used the Education Gazette on line to learn about job vacancies or Ministry updates? Of course you have.

But what about using web resources for professional learning? Have you used the web to learn about teaching writing, or grammar, or mathematics or science or… If you haven’t, try it.

You can use the web to teach yourself anything. Learn about the rectilinear propagation of light, appositive phrases, how to swim, dance, or write poetry. Learn about the multiplication of mixed fractions, about inquiry learning, about formative assessment, about how to make graphs in Excel, about …

So why would you need PLD when everything you might need to know in order to effectively teach your students is readily available in chat-rooms, on Twitter, PDF, video or Powerpoint? Why would you, when you can ‘google’ anything, and access it in your own time?

While the web is perfect for telling you all you need to know and what you should do to promote the learning of your students, there is one very good reason that you still need PLD.

PLD offers what books and the web cannot. It’s the thing that research shows is so very, very difficult for anyone to do by themselves. It’s to see if how you really teach closely matches how you think you teach, and what books and the web say about how you should teach. The essential role of PLD facilitators is to hold up a mirror to help you see exactly how you do teach, how you talk to students, how you listen and how you respond. And if there is a difference between what you should do, what you think you do, and what you really do, a facilitator can provide specific support to help you to narrow that difference.

Most things can be accessed on the web. Effective professional learning and development cannot.

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