Now What? Recommendations - Part 2
I recognize that creating shared learning spaces like a book study group, or a collaborative inquiry group, requires a high level of commitment, especially if this happens in addition to time required in learning experiences that “count” (i.e. meet criteria for re-certification and other necessary requirements).
Art teachers can make professional development within their district more meaningful (or negotiate release time, when applicable) by volunteering to be part of planning committees that determine professional development content and structure. Using research about effective professional development (e.g. Barret, 2006; Hawley & Valli, 2007) can provide common language for art teachers and administrators to discuss and negotiate how the school can best provide meaningful learning experiences for the art educator that also contribute to the school’s goal of improving student achievement.
I recommend that art teachers and administrators who design professional development opportunities intentionally move away from the role of a content provider and towards the role of a facilitator. As a facilitator, the time previously spent preparing and delivering content can now be spent supporting teachers’ inquiry and working to present teachers’ professional learning as sophisticated and able to meet criteria set by outside agencies. Furthermore, embracing a facilitator role challenges the notion that professional learning requires an expert, and acknowledges that teachers can take the lead in designing their own professional learning opportunities both within and outside their districts.
I believe that professional learning experiences can honor emergent, learner-defined content and, with few concessions, meet requirements from departments of education and funding agencies in order to create learning opportunities that “count” for participants. This attempt requires creative attention and full commitment.
NOTE: I have enjoyed sharing these ideas with you. If you would like to continue this discussion, please feel free to email me at lesliegatespaea at gmail dot com. Thanks also to Linda Scott from NAEA for giving me the opportunity to be the monthly mentor.
-Barrett, J. R. (2006). Recasting professional development for music teachers in an era of reform. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(6), 19-28.
-Hawley, W. & Valli, L. (2007). Designing and implementing school-based professional development. In Hawley, W. (Ed.). The keys to effective schools: Educational reform as continuous improvement (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.