by Claire Miller
Traditional professional development sessions for teachers used to come in the “sit and get” format – teachers sat and listened to a speaker discussing ways to improve their craft. Effective professional learning has changed substantially to participative formats, ongoing learning beyond one workshop session formats, and job-embedded opportunities to practice the new learning, according to Dee Taylor, project director for the Network for Enhancing Teacher Quality (NET-Q) grant.
Chris Diffley, professional development coordinator at Meadowcreek High School in Gwinnett County, also believes that teachers should have more engaging forms of professional development to truly gain a new and practical perspective of their work.
“We don’t encourage the ‘sit and get’ model in the classroom, so why should we do that for our teachers?” Diffley said. “We need to think about how to get teachers actively engaged in their learning, because we want it to be truly effective.”
It was this attitude that permeated the NET-Q Summer Institute, which took place on June 16 at the Loudermilk Center in downtown Atlanta.
Diffley and other representatives from P-12 schools, colleges and universities led discussions and activities throughout the institute, giving attendees the chance to highlight the work they’ve done with NET-Q – a collection of customized grant initiatives designed to prepare and support teachers for the demands of teaching high-need subjects in high-need schools – and plan upcoming grant work.
“We wanted participants to network with educators in the NET-Q community and see research in action, such as the math and special education teams who worked all year long in teacher residencies in the metro area and at Albany State University,” said Taylor.
The institute provided a special keynote luncheon session by Nancy Dana, professor of education at the University of Florida, and concurrent sessions for new and veteran teachers, along with school leaders.
The Institute also presented new teachers and those preparing to become teachers, such as early childhood education student Natalie Farthing, the opportunity to discuss challenges teachers face before they set foot in a classroom themselves.
“They offered practical and relevant information – scenarios that would really happen in the classroom and ways to address those issues,” Farthing said.
For more information about the Network for Enhancing Teacher Quality, visit http://netq.coe.gsu.edu.