“The concept of career ladders is where we need to go…going beyond the concept of professional development and thinking about how you grow and develop talent for years and not just to meet today’s needs.” – Alvin Crawford, USA

“If you get a laptop as a teacher, but you don’t understand how to engage students
or how to really teach compelling things,” says Alvin Crawford, “that device doesn’t change your teaching practice at all.” Crawford and his team at Knowledge Delivery Systems (KDS) are on a mission to address not only this, but the entire system of teacher training through online strategic professional development.

“Research suggests the problems lie not with the students but with the adults,” Crawford said in a recent Education Week blog. “Teacher-performance research clearly illustrates we have a teaching problem in school districts. It suggests the quality of a classroom teacher is the single most important element in a child’s success.” But, adds Crawford, this doesn’t mean that there are more bad teachers than great ones. “The heart of the problem is that there are too many poorly trained administrators, principals, and teachers,” he states. “In most industries, people are considered the most important asset, and corporate leaders ensure they are trained to do their jobs effectively. Public schools should be no  different.”

Yet, when most people think about professional development, it is generally what Crawford refers to as, “a sit and get. Where you sit and listen to someone for four to eight hours and grade papers in the back of the room.”  In other words – training that isn’t effective. So, with this in mind, what makes professional development effective? Crawford says that studies show it must be “focused, engaging, intensive, linked to student learning, supported with coaching, integrated with other school initiatives, and continuous for ‘an average of about 50 hours or more on a given topic.’”

Given the landscape of education today, and where we need to go, what does Crawford see for the future? “I’m definitely hopeful in terms of where we’re going,” says Crawford.  “As we move to Common Core and people start to see that you don’t really change that much through just ‘evaluating’ teachers and that you actually have to provide them with
support, I see a great future ahead in terms of focusing on developing teachers, which is the critical path if we are going to improve student success.”

I’m pleased to share today’s Daily Edventure, with my friend Alvin Crawford.

About Alvin Crawford

Alvin Crawford has over 20 years of experience in education and media. Crawford spent nearly a decade at SchoolNet, a company he helped drive from a four-person startup to its current position as a leader in educational software solutions for school districts. At SchoolNet, Crawford held executive positions in areas including sales, marketing, product development and business development. He has also worked at Zentropy Partners, Ogilvy One, and Digitas. Crawford holds a BS in Biology from Tufts University, and an MBA from the Wallace E. Carroll Graduate School of Management at Boston College.

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