Enhancing the Effectiveness of Standardized Pre/In Service Trainings

Looking at some more background on multi-grade, and came across a small blurb on professional development which got me to ruminate a bit……So little of what is “delivered” in formalized teacher training sessions is retained and effectively utilized in the classroom, especially through “cascade” models of professional development. What are the most crucial elements in improving the “conductivity” of these sessions? Should they be eliminated all together, as simply a non-effective use of scarce resources? What are viable alternatives? Starting with a few critical elements:

--Peer Learning Structures leading to Sustainable Micro-Teaching Centers: embedded into the structure of localized school communities-derived from the Escuela Nueva model of “microcenters” to encourage peer learning, observations, critique and continuous, localized professional development

--Student and Community Led Observations/Feedback: how can reliable observations be conducted by key stakeholders (meaning those most directly impacted by the quality of services, not those who are potentially perversely-incentivized to unreliably “judge” teacher performance)? I would list these key stakeholders as parents and the children themselves. How can these individuals be trained and empowered to conduct regularized teacher feedback sessions, with limited resources and limited pedagogical backgrounds? These could be complimented by government or organizational staff led assessments, but the primary and most regular evaluation method should come from those with the most “skin in the game”

--Practicality as the Guiding Principle of Session Design: avoiding theory in favor of practicality is absolutely key with the design of effective teacher training sessions. The most effective training sessions provide teachers with tools and resources that they can directly utilize in their classrooms-practical activities and materials-which can also be assessed easily by a third party observer, triangulating the effectiveness and utilization of training.

--Limiting/Eliminating the Cascade: while impossible at large scale, it is critical to bring the direct training services as close as possible to the intended beneficiaries. At every level of cascade, there is significant quality loss. I would rather have 2 days of direct training at community level than 5 cascaded.

--Delivering in the Reality of the Teachers: too many trainings are held in comfortable hotels with air conditioning, which do not in any way mirror the realities of teachers working in the most difficult conditions. I ALWAYS require trainings to be held in the SAME conditions as teachers are working-this saves money and better prepares teachers, and gives trainers a much better idea of the conditions so trainings can be more effectively adapted/adjusted/refined.