As a first-year teacher in 2003, I quickly began to detest professional development. I felt that there was a disconnect between the facilitators and the attendees. The facilitators would present policy changes ordained by the district, but when pushed and questioned they had little to no information to expand. To me, and many of my colleagues at the time, we knew that professional development was supposed to look and feel different.
Make no mistake, I get it and anyone that has ever sat through a wasteless PD gets it too.
Moreover, rather than sulk and protest through inaction, my colleagues and I decided to take the bulls by the horn regarding PD. We identified a problem, but that was the easy part. We also came with solutions. When you come to administrators with a solution-oriented approach, it makes a huge difference regarding how they receive the feedback.
We introduced a 12 point plan to our principal, centered around teachers as experts. We would attend outside PD’s, and turnkey training for our peers. Professional development improved drastically. Teachers were more willing to exhibit vulnerabilities, thus allowing administrators to focus on the soft skills needed for teachers to enhance their practice.
Professional Development Currently:
Circa 2019, not much has changed regarding teachers and their feelings about Professional Development.
Veteran teachers often say, “I’ve attended a training similar to this, can I be excused?” To which my answer is usually, let’s look at your data. Did 100% of your students master 100% of the standards on their last interim assessment? Alternatively, how were your test scores on the state assessments, did the majority of your students pass?
Professional Development is not the enemy:
If you want to change PD here are five ways:
- If you don’t like the way PD is going in your school, you have the power to change it.
- Go to your principal, and let him/her know why the message isn’t resonating with you.
- Ask them if you could be a part of the process regarding selecting the topic and trainers for PD.
- No “good” leader is going to turn down your help.
- Many leaders want their PD’s to change student outcomes by any means necessary.