What if you built a Volunteer Run School of Education–and nobody came?

October 13, 2011 at 9:00 am 3 comments

First, I’ll give you the blog quote, then my response (below):

What if edu-passionate volunteers from around the world banned together to…

Build an open licensed, free, multilingual virtual school of education driven by the principles of peer learning.

Facilitate the free exchange of knowledge and ideas between educators in a context that positively transforms teacher and student practice, learning and engagement.

Codify existing educational best practices into a series of experiences that provide foundational knowledge of how to be an effective teacher.

via A Volunteer Run School of Education? | Dot Learnt.

Here’s my response (which isn’t showing up at Dot Learnt — maybe deleted as spam?):

Why would any teachers come? Yes, some might — the most active, the most excited, the most passionate. But they’re not the problem. How could you package teacher professional development so that it’s easily accessible, engaging, and no-cost (or as they’re finding in LAUSD, you have to pay the teachers to get them to attend)? You make a difference, at-scale, by engaging lots of teachers, not just the few who will voluntarily take the classes.

If you compare this to professions like law or medicine, the practice pays for the practitioner to seek out professional development (often at really nice locations!). But teachers are expected to work long hours at night, on their own time, for professional development? The sustainability problem with the volunteer school of ed idea is not to keep the volunteers producing, it’s to get teacher-participants.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lisa RL  |  October 13, 2011 at 9:34 am

    That blog quote itself would turn off all but a few teachers. As a K-12 teacher, I’ve seen how teachers learn to tune out PD. Most PD we get is exactly like that quote: too full of the current jargon, bad statistics, and buzz words to actually get down to the business of what actually works in the classroom.

    It’s not that teachers don’t want to improve their practice – instead they have attended so many ineffective-PD with high-expectations that they end up not wanting to give their own time to yet another PD that will be all the same words and all the same inaction.

  • 2. Donna Llewellyn  |  October 13, 2011 at 10:16 am


  • 3. Anna & Bon Team  |  October 14, 2011 at 1:29 am

    Thanks for reading my post and replying (your comment has been moderated as ‘yes’ btw). As a professional development provider in the Middle East, whose done work with teachers across North America and Asia. We work with many educators and in schools where having a “teaching certification” is not the norm. We provide a number of PD courses (face-to-face and virtual) where teachers don’t pay to come, are not paid to come and in fact volunteer to come during their evenings and weekends (local Foundations, companies and govts fund the courses). Thousands of teachers come out. Because they are thirsty for knowledge, new skills and a chance to exchange ideas with their peers. Whereas in the USA where teachers have the fortune of having too many PD offerings at their fingertips, this just isn’t the case in many (if not most) countries.

    We are in the early stages of the P2PU School of Ed pilot, but so far many people have volunteered to both teach and participate. Change is a gradual process. So, it will be interesting to see how early adopters use the materials and who comes next. Regardless, there are enough “active,” “excited” and “passionate” educators (and volunteer teacher educators) in the world that don’t have access to ongoing PD, that there is much work ahead spreading the word and providing opportunities for this cohort of “early stage adopters” to engage. Thanks for reading. -A


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