Questions for Reflection:
How can we shift away from delivery of material as our prime source of teaching methodology if that is the only way we experience our Professional Development?
Does HOW we do PD affect our teaching practice?
Where does PD happen? Can it happen in staff meetings? Can it happen in classrooms?

So…why do we need to think of new ways to do professional development?

Changing Programs: student centered 

Some of our new adult education programs in Quebec have been around for 10 years but they are quickly becoming mandatory programs of study. Both the Common Core Basic Education (CCBE) and the Diversified Basic Education (DBE) programs are active student centred programs that focus on the development of competencies through learning situations.

If our classrooms are student-centered, shouldn’t our PD be teacher-centered?

Changing Clientele

Our learners have been getting younger over the last few years. A growing percentage of learners in adult education are those students for whom high school did not work for many reasons. Our task is to make learning work for them again.

So practices are shifting and it just makes sense that our PD has to shift along with them.

Why does a change in program call for a change in practice?

The simple answer is – because if we do not change a thing then we are not teaching anything new!

But seriously, not everything has to change just because we have a new set of programs to teach!

I love this image because it accurately demonstrates what we go through when we change our practice. We are not throwing out the old but we are reshaping it so we can grow in different ways.

Image from Dave at Bees and Bombs, used with permission.


If we want student centred learning situations in classrooms, we need to experience teacher centred learning situations in professional development. Whether we plan to or not, we are modeling learning all of the time.

What does teacher-centered professional development look like?


When PD starts with the following assumptions, we can make sure that it is centered on what teachers actually need in relation to our changing practices:

Teacher choice – not all teachers need to learn the same thing at the same time.
Teacher created – the best professional learning comes from peers
Teacher as expert – recognizing that, collectively, teachers share the expertise that is needed for changes in practice
Teacher sharing – providing a space for teachers to share their practice is invaluable
Valuing teacher time – teachers have so much to do! There is nothing worse than being away from the classroom and not feeling it is worth it.

Professional Development models like Learning in Stations or EdCamps are two strategies that promote teacher-centered learning.

The value of working together through change

Teachers in adult education have been experiencing changes in their practice over the past few years. Many of them are recognizing the benefits of collaborative approaches to learning, both in the classroom and for their own professional learning.

In this video, Tara Wong (LBPSB) and Sheldon MacGillivray (WQSB) talk a bit about how during times of change, our best resources are each other. Both practical experience and research show how true this is!


If you are interested in shifting your own professional development practice, please contact Tracy Rosen or Avi Spector. At all times, technology is integrated in ways that make sense for the learning.

Learning resources for this tile were developed by Sheldon MacGillivray (Teacher, WQSB), Tara Wong (Teacher, LBPSB), Kish Gué (RECIT consultant, EMSB), Avi Spector (RECIT Consultant, RSB) and Tracy Rosen (RECIT Consultant, CSSMI), 2016 and 2017. 

All materials are expected to be reused and shared according to this Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0