I read a great blog post recently about Evolving Common Classroom Practices. The author describes some specific practices related to personalized learning and how they make a difference to student learning. The best part is that the author is a 10th grade student.
This started me thinking about how rarely students are directly involved in professional development. That makes a certain amount of sense – our students don’t have graduate degrees in education or our content areas. Most of them don’t have extensive consulting portfolios yet, either.
In spite of their lack of credentials, it doesn’t make sense to exclude students from our professional development altogether. In many cases, students know exactly what isn’t working for them, and they may have past experiences that they can share where things were working for them. Every interaction with a student is a potential professional learning opportunity. That’s as job-embedded as professional development can be! Tapping into student knowledge might be the most efficient way to improve our instructional practices and co-develop learning experiences that are relevant and effective for every student.
Students are stakeholders in professional development whether they know it or not. We can give them a seat at the table by either involving students in structured opportunities or just listening to students with the intent to improve our practice. What’s working for them? What’s not working for them? What used to work for them that we aren’t doing right now? We might get a larger benefit from an informal conversation with a student than we would from a webinar. As a side benefit, students’ consulting fees usually aren’t too high. Let’s make use of that resource now when we can afford to!