IDE Corp. provides consultative professional development, which we view differently from training services. While we provide teachers with new strategies and structures to use in their classrooms (thus, the training aspect), we accomplish this through a consultative process. That is, we work with our clients to identify their needs and select the tools that will prove most useful to them at the time. Our consultants have access to a variety of online materials, thus offering their clients just-in-time learning.
Teacher as Ferry; Teacher as Bridge
Both a ferry and a bridge cross water. In the case of a ferry, you embark; there’s food and entertainment; you’re taken across the water; and in the end, you comment on how much you liked the ferry. In the case of a bridge you make decisions about how you travel; yet when you get to the other side, you don’t think of the engineers who suspended tons of steel in midair so that you could move across. Medians, guardrails, lines, lights, and signs guide you, allowing you to take responsibility for your own travel.
At IDE Corp., we believe that great teachers are ferry rides; masterful teachers are bridge builders.
The Laser and the Lightbulb
Effecting purposeful change is best addressed through two levels of professional development, which we refer to as “the laser and the lightbulb.” A lightbulb sheds diffused light over a large area, thus illuminating the area, while a laser is concentrated light that has the power to cut and shape objects.
It is important to ensure that all faculty members begin to embrace technical changes in areas, such as, common core state standards, twenty-first century skills, problem-based learning, differentiated instruction, formative assessment, and technology infusion. However, technical change is not enough to bring about a significant paradigm shift in teachers’ perceptions of the teaching and learning process in today’s classrooms. Thus, it is equally, if not more, important to engage a small cohort of teachers in concentrated, ongoing and sustained professional development toward adaptive change that will enable them to redesign their classrooms in meaningful and powerful ways.
Technical vs. Adaptive Change
Educational change falls into two categories, as defined by Ron Heifetz: technical and adaptive. Technical change seeks to solve problems for which there are known solutions. The required changes are relatively easy, can be approached, for example, through workshops, and can be the substance of turnkey training situations. Examples of technical change include using rubrics, writing high-quality test questions, designing tiered-lessons for differentiation, and utilizing varied questioning techniques. Adaptive change seeks to solve problems for which the known solution is not as clear. Such change requires people to think differently about how they go about doing their work, to shift their belief systems to develop new models. Designing classrooms that continue to promote a high level of achievement for all learners, while preparing them for their lives as global workers and citizens, requires adaptive change.