Reversing the Professional Development Paradigm
We are all familiar with the traditional “conference model” of professional development.
Under this model, knowledge rests with the expert presenter. The presenter passes knowledge to the attendees, who (in theory) take it back to their schools and share it with their colleagues on the faculty and staff.
This model works when the presenter has something new and innovative to say, the conference participants are in line to put it into action, and there is plenty of time for sharing. It is particularly useful in research professions.
The conference format is most helpful for younger and less experienced professionals, who can benefit from the expertise of a wide variety of speakers. For the highly experienced, however, this model has limited use. Much of what is said in education conferences is already well known by the veteran teacher, tenured professor, or career policymaker. Such individuals find the greatest benefit in these conferences to be the opportunity they offer to network, to talk at length to one another. While such conversations are extremely helpful, they must be balanced against the cost of attending the conference and the limited opportunity to network “between sessions.”
At The House of Study, we reverse the paradigm.
Since experienced teachers benefit most from conversation with one another, we set aside space and time for that kind of conversation to happen.
We bring small groups of experienced educators together for day-long seminars, tightly focused on one area. Then, we make the archived results available free of charge on the internet, for everyone to read and use as they please.
And rather than charge for these seminars, we pay our participants an honorarium.
Under our seminar model, the experienced professional has the time to interact at length with colleagues of similar standing, and the benefit extends to other educators through the web.
Why do we do it?
Because we are committed to study, a type of learning that we believe happens only in pairs or small groups, only through dialogue, and only when engagement is focused and time pressure is not critical.
We think this kind of learning works for students and for teachers, and we aim to prove it.