The August 2006 Education Update from ASCD includes an article about training elementary teachers to use inquiry methods. It reminds us that inquiry instruction must be learned, and that kit-based, hands-on learning is insufficient if the teacher is not prepared to use inquiry-based approaches.
That raises the question for the after-school field (as well as for elementary educators) about how to deliver professional development. There are many successful programs out there that depend on good trainers. How do we offer the same quality professional development to the thousands of after-school leaders across the country?
One way is to use technology. the National Partnership's toolkits include videos that demonstrate teaching techniques. Over time, I would like the Coalition for Science After School to develop a video library with many examples of quality after-school science learning.
The other option is to develop an army of instructors, available to deliver quality professional development at every regional, state, and national conference. This will presumably cost more, take more time, and be more difficult to maintain than a video library, but the results could be spectacular!