Another Afternoon Wasted! vs.
Wasn't This Great!
Mathematics teachers often find themselves involved in in-service situations. The word "opportunities" is not used, because that puts too positive of a spin on the experience.
Many criticisms surface (and often). The in-service experiences are disoraganized, don't fit a teacher's felt-needs, are overly general, too trendy, too theoretical, not classroom-based, and too dependent on a specific set of resource materials (for sale of course!).
What exactly should occur in an in-service experience...if mathematics teacher are to walk away with new ideas, strengthened pedagogies, renewed energies...and the general feeling that their time was well-used? One thing is that changing the name from "in-service" to "professional development" is little more than cosmetic!
In the 56th Yearbook for The National Society for the Study of Education, Cecil Parker suggested these "Guidelines for In-Service Education Experiences":
This is a quality list...and I forgot to state earlier that this list of suggestions was published in 1957. Given the nature (and demise) of too many in-service situations, apparently few have paid it any heed ove the past sixty years.
- Teachers work both as individuals and as
members of groups on problems that are significant to them
- The same teachers who work on problems formulate both goals and implementations, and plan how they will work
- Many opportunities are developed for teachers to relate themselves to each other
- Continuous attention is given to
individual and to group problem-solving processes
- An atmosphere is created that is conducive to building mutual respect, support, permissiveness, and creativeness
- Multiple and rich resources are made available and are used
- The simplest possible means are developed to move teachers through decisions to actions
- Constant encouragement is present to test and to try ideas and plans in real classrooms
- Appraisal (and reflective assessment) is made an integral
part of the in-service activities
- Continuous attention is given to the interrelationship of different teacher groups
- The facts of individual differences among members of each group are accepted and utilized
- Activities are related to pertinent aspects of the current educational, cultural,
political, and economic scene
The one thing missing on the list...a research-validated notion: In-service opportunties cannot occur as half-day events that are sporatic and unconnected, but need to involve long-term commitments involving regular, connected meetings.
Source: International Society for the Study of Education Yearbook, 1957, pp. 103-128