Train the Trainer Model

What if the "normal" model for PD was for teachers to learn a new approach, start implementing, and then become PD providers to others?

Photo of Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom
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As teachers, we know that we learn stuff best by teaching it to others. We also know that when a school becomes a demonstration site that teachers become ambassadors for the approach/frameworks that the school implements, reinforcing their ownership of that approach. 

Finally, we know that when implementing a new approach, schools often bring in expert PD providers to work with them.

What if the goal of bringing in PD providers was to eventually develop the capacity of the staff to become PD providers/coaches themselves, both for other teachers in the school, and for other schools in the district/area. 

When run well, the model would look like: Outside experts come in and provide initial PD. Teachers begin implementing, with outside experts returning to coach emerging teacher leaders in implementing with even more depth and skill. Outside experts then work in tandem with on-the-ground teachers to provide additional coaching and support within the school. When school becomes solid implementer of approach, it becomes a demonstration site, so subsequent PD (for other schools in district, say) can include a visit to the school to watch approach in action, and then PD from emerging teacher leaders who have been practicing the approach and know intimately the conditions in which the other teachers are working. 

A model like this needs substantive commitment early on from the host school/district, but the ROI long term would be even more substantial.

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Photo of Kali

I agree that teachers are the best teachers of teachers.  One of the perplexities I have encountered is the lack of sharing when a teacher learns something new at a conference or PD workshop.  I think principals ought to require teachers to share what they learned with their colleagues if the teacher attends on Prof. Dev. leave time.  When teachers come together, there is so much knowledge in the room, it should be shared.

Photo of Aaron

Agreed! Unfortunately, with all the talk of Professional Learning Communities, very few schools have robust structures in place for regular, ongoing professional learning. If they did, when teachers went to conferences, there'd already be a structure to plug into for sharing what was learned. It would be natural. 

Photo of Kali

You are so right.  Maybe this would be a good place to discuss how a structure might be built to let this take place?

Photo of Aaron

(Do you mean to discuss above, in the idea description, or respond here?) Some schools are going to a model where they have an alternative schedule one day/week, say Monday morning for 90 min. Students come to school late (works best at high school level where students are generally responsible for own transportation). Then that 90 minutes can be broken up different ways, e.g. once/month full school meeting; every other week discipline team meetings, etc.  The important thing is to ensure that someone takes responsibility for facilitating the meeting, and that there's a clear focus and set of deliverables.

Photo of Chris

Connect with Paula Marra - she is connecting people together who are working on similar challenges and has a Google drive set-up for folks to collaborate.