To the Editor:
The Jan. 27 article “In Other Countries, Teacher PD Is a Way of Life” covers new reports commissioned by the nonprofit National Center on Education and the Economy that indicate professional development is not meeting teachers’ needs. But this isn’t surprising information. Decades of research have already urged us to implement something different.
As far back as 1980, researchers Bruce Joyce and Beverly Showers identified peer coaching as the high-impact model to pursue. And even though districts are investing in models like professional-learning communities, we are falling short of Joyce and Showers’ vision. Instead of rehashing the old news of our underperforming PD, let’s choose to make the conversation about how we can transform teacher learning in the same ways to which we aspire for our K-12 students.
Technology can make the best models for teacher learning more cost-effective and scalable. Web-based video coaching, for example, enables teachers to share their own teaching videos with colleagues to get feedback. Technology like this empowers teachers to participate in the career-long, meaningful PD that is advocated by researchers.
Coaching in the classroom can now be implemented with less out-of-class time and fewer substitutes.
For the first time, the right combination of technology and know-how is available to help U.S. teachers rise above all the issues that have been holding back their professional learning. If we choose to prioritize new ways to invest our PD dollars, in a few years we’ll be the ones showing the world how PD is done.
Chief Executive Officer
San Francisco, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the February 24, 2016 edition of Education Week as Teacher PD Dollars Stretch Further With Technology