Want to better align PD to address students' needs? Involve them
- Teacher and The Educators' Lab Founder Michelle Blanchet writes for Edutopia that involving students in the professional development process can help facilitators avoid guessing when it comes to what approaches will work best in the classroom or how they might try to solve a problem.
- Blanchet writes that incorporating student voice in the process can provide clarity, build relationships, boost engagement and collaboration and better prepare teachers for PD sessions.
- To collect student feedback, Blanchet suggests inviting students to PD sessions or soliciting their ideas ahead of time.
Professional development has transformed alongside classrooms in recent years, recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach also no longer works for teachers — if it was ever truly the most effective option in the first place. Educators in some districts are now given the opportunity to pursue individualized professional development opportunities aligned to specific areas in which they wish to improve, via options such as microcredentialing.
Getting more student voice in the mix can also help educators adjust their own learning opportunities to better reflect what works best for pupils, though doing so will require teachers and PD facilitators to ensure they get a representative sample of the overall student population as opposed to relying primarily on a small group of more vocal students.
Across the board, administrators are making a push to incorporate student voice into more facets of decision-making. Creating meaningful opportunities for student involvement not only gives them a sense of ownership, but it can better prepare them for civic engagement later in life. As Greece Central School District (NY) Superintendent Kathleen Graupman told us, "The biggest thing is letting go and allowing kids to lead."
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