I have read many articles (and tweets) on how professional development (will use the abbreviation "PD" moving forward) needs to be reformed so educators feel their time is being valued and come away with some truly new-found applicable knowledge. Suggestions have ranged from letting educators go to weekend conferences that are fun and educational to having educators educate their fellow peers on a subject they are passionate/knowledgeable about. I have heard of and experienced the former and have partook of the latter- but not necessarily as an officially built in component of a school's PD.
I recently had the opportunity to direct a PD session for educators on class management web tools. The difference between this time and other groups to whom I speak is I was sharing with educators I work with on a daily basis as a built in school PD session. Although I thought the PD session went well the big question was whether any of it was heard and would be put into practice. How pleasantly surprised was I when I received an e-mail the next school day from an educator attendee. Her e-mail started with: "Set it up last night and am using it for my third class already..." and ended with "Thank you soooo much!!!!!"
This is an example of how peer to peer PD works. One educator gained new knowledge from another educator and decided to put that knowledge to practice. And kudos to the school for making it happen. Don't get me wrong- I am not saying that schools should never bring in anyone from the outside or never send their educators to conferences. I am not saying that peer to peer is the be all end all; there are times when it won't work be it the presenter, the topic, or etc. What I am saying is when professional educators hear from and share with each other, they are inclined to listen to one another and seriously consider acting upon that knowledge. Why? Because (in my opinion) the underlying message the peer presenter communicates is "I care about you and we both care about our students- let's help our students learn the best way they can."