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courtesy Kennesaw State University
courtesy Kennesaw State University

My own experiences have taught me that follow-up and follow through on professional development is lacking.  I have witnessed numerous programs, initiatives, projects that were implemented and “died on the vine” without bearing any fruit. There are tremendous amounts of wasted time, effort and money devoted to professional developments and in many cases the activities are never fully accepted nor practiced.  The results of implemented professional development activities, (in my personal experience), whether success or failure, has not been reported in the past; this time, that would be corrected.

Part 4:  The results of the project

The project needed to be evaluated.  According to my action plan I had decided that I would create an anonymous online survey.  I developed questions around teacher learning and teacher perspectives.   The questions on the survey were:

1. What did you value most about the experience?

2. In your opinion, which method of Professional Development best meets your needs?

3. How important is it to ask for volunteers to participate versus being directed to participate?

4. How important is it for the teaching team to remain the same each year?

5. How important is the rapport of the 2 teachers, SPED and Regular Ed?

6. How much common planning or collaboration did your team complete?

7.  How important is it for the SPED teacher to have a working knowledge of the content?

8. From this experience, would you say that your teaching partner feels more comfortable in

the classroom with you?

9. Do you think that this particular Professional Development activity will enable more effective

co-teaching in your school?

10. Has this activity impacted your co-teaching in your assigned classrooms?

The survey results yielded some important information, as discussed in the previous article, the teachers resoundingly scored survey question 4 (S4) as very important (100%) of all the participants.  Survey questions 2 (S2) and 6 (S6) had various responses dependent on the teacher’s experience level and scheduling of planning periods.

The result of the survey indicates that the participants’ perceptions are positive and a belief that co-teaching practices will likely increase throughout the two schools, “it is a process that is getting better and better” (S8, S9 and S10).  As reported in the survey, the participants strongly believe that the teaching team should remain intact throughout their tenure and that the rapport of the teachers’ is essential to effective co-teaching.  The participants reported that having an intact team from year to year is “the most important” facet and that “it builds good teacher rapport with colleagues” (S4 and S5). The results indicate that maximum efforts in scheduling teachers must be intentional and directed at the success of the students.

The participants also indicated that the debriefing sessions and observations were important to them as practitioners, “I . . . enjoy watching others in action and taking away something I can implement in my classroom” (S1).   The participants’ perceptions indicate that professional development which is designed in this mode is valuable and worthwhile.  The perceptions of the participants were varied concerning the delivery in conjunction with the topic of the professional development and indicate that the need for various types of learning situations were different due to the information being conveyed “I think it depends on the topic” (S2).

In response to the professional development being implemented on a voluntary basis, which according to research is a “best practice,” the participants indicated that “this takes the pressure off of having to do something else” and “you are more apt to learn” (S3). The participants strongly supported the current research that the activity based on volunteerism is positive, “people don’t go into a situation with the best attitude when they are made to do it” and “it’s all about creating a positive school culture” (S3).  The perceptions of the participants reported in the survey, indicate that professional development that calls for voluntary participation was more valuable to them and garners a more positive school and learning culture.

Collaborative planning of the teachers was reported as being necessary, although planning time was varied due to circumstances “being short of staff doesn’t allow for common planning” (S7).  The participants’ responses indicated that planning time varied “it is different for each teacher with whom I collaborate” (S7) and that the time spent could vary from “a week” to “an hour or two” (S3).   The results indicate a need for collaborative planning and suggests that time is dependent on the learning and teaching environment.  These results combined with the results of observations indicated a need to develop a plan for coaching of the collaborative planning processes.

The survey also indicated that content knowledge of the classroom to be “nice” and “important but not crucial to success” (S7).  The participants indicated that in the case of the content knowledge of the special education teacher being minimal, “if the collaboration is done correctly then the special education teacher can be taught the information” (S7).  The process of collaborative planning is important to success; although the process itself, based on survey and observation data should be strengthened by coaching of the planning process as need arises.

Part 5:  The Last Word or “How I have survived and grown from completing this project.”

Yes, a part 5.  I realize that I had previously stated that there would be 4 articles, so I tagged this onto the end of 4 and it illustrates something that I have learned.  I have learned to be quiet and listen.  I have learned to really attend to something another person was saying.  I have in the past realized solutions and immediately wanted to offer them to help the other teacher.  I have learned to facilitate a conversation so that the person, through reflection and discussions with others arrive at a solution which is viable.  This project has strengthened my own teacher leadership skills.

I have heard wonderful things from other teachers during our debriefing sessions:  “I can modify that to use with my curriculum, do you have a copy?”  “We can do that activity with technology on our next unit, do you have a copy?”  “That really made me stop and think about what I was doing in my class.”  And on and on, I witnessed so much growth and sharing of these teachers, that it really has “re-inspired” me to return to my own classroom as a better teacher.  Isn’t that what professional development is all about?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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