Is there a fundamental difference between professional development and professional learning? Can teachers be doing PD and teaching at the same time?
If we define professional development as a one-off activity that takes place outside of classrooms, the answer is no.
Professional development is a remnant of the 20th century when perfecting routines and tasks (productivity) were important than collaboration and innovation (creativity).
As part of the rollout of the national curriculum, the Federal Education Minister conceded the need for professional development to ensure teachers are ‘tooled up to teach the national curriculum’.
I believe that tooling teachers does not necessarily transform teachers. Effective teachers are life-long learners. They become as Bransford et al says adaptive experts who can give up ‘old routines and transform prior beliefs and practices.’
In moving from professional development to professional learning, teachers will inevitably take greater responsibility for their own and their students’ learning. School leaders take greater responsibilty for teacher-learning and systems provide the necessary support and conditions to enable this to happen systematically.
Evaluating performance, seeking feedback and asking questions of students and colleagues happens on the job – as part of the process of improving teaching.
Isn’t it time governments, media and teacher unions recognised the difference between professional development and professional learning?