Friday, March 28, 2014

PD? Really? Umm...I Don't Have Time?

Why do teachers seem to dislike professional development opportunities so much?  What will make PD more interesting and relevant to teachers?  

Here are some of the things a group of our teachers recently said they would like to see more of in professional development:

Choice: teachers, like their students want choice.  The one size fits all mentality doesn't work anymore.  We keep telling teacher to individualize learning and give choice to their students.  Now they want the same opportunities.

Teacher taught and led:  Teachers want to learn from other teachers.  I think it's a comfort thing.  Teachers teaching other teachers just makes sense.  

Time to practice what they learn:  We need to give teachers more time to process what they learn.  We also need to give them the time they need to practice what they learn.

Recognition:  Teachers want to be recognized for the things they do.  It is amazing to me how important things like badges are to teachers.  Let's recognize them for their learning.  We all know how valuable time is to teachers.  

Extended learning times:  Teachers want extended time to not only learn but to apply and/or  produce a product they can use.  You can't get that sort of learning in 30-45 minute sit and gets.

What do you think professional learning opportunities should look like?  Let me know in the comments section.

Image by Omer Unlu


  1. It is so difficult for me to wrap my brain around all of the issues that I have been faced with regarding Educator Professional Learning over the past few year! As a teacher, PL was a "no-brainer"; therefore, as PL Leader, it has become very difficult to understand why this is such an issue. I have conversations all the time in which I assert that "Professional Learning is a Professional Obligation!", absent any incentive or extrinsic motivation. However, I am aware that my thoughts are not supported by the evidence! I look forward to learning more about what Adult Learners need to support their professional growth!

    1. Emily, I totally agree, "Professional Learning is a Professional Obligation." The question is how do you get teachers to see it as a Professional Obligation? To me it boils down to expectations and culture of a school. If PL is important to the leadership of a school, I believe you are more likely to get the teachers to see the relevance of the PL opportunities. But, I also believe the way PL is offered and delivered is also an area awe need to look at closely. There are no easy answers.

  2. As a historian, I want to go back and discover how they've gotten to the point where PD isn't thought of as worth their time. As a presenter, I'm also curious what past presenters have done to wrong teachers (I'm almost 100% convinced it has to do with terrible PowerPoints). As a teacher, I want PD that offers something I can't get on my own, something that is relevant to what I'm doing.

    How do we accomplish this for every teacher? Can we? I have no idea.

    1. JL, I like the idea of looking back to try and discover the when and maybe the why of the PD problem. I agree with you that delivery of content in PD sessions is often very boring. Interestingly, most teachers still teach the way they receive PD, direct instruction driven by a PowerPoint presentation, and they can't understand why students are bored in their classrooms.