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Yawn, Fidget, Cringe: "Professional Development"?

We've all been there: yawning, fidgeting, cringing--it's "Professional Development"!

By Revital Salomon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


On many occasions I have suffered through "Professional Development," and on other occasions I was the one inflicting the suffering. Professional development isn't always bad, boring or irrelevant; sometimes it's downright fascinating! Regardless of the quality, we all have a responsibility to put the "Professional" in the "Development".


How should we treat "Professional Development"?


Administrators and Professional Development Planners:


  • Refrain from using PD as a punitive measure. If you have staff members with "issues," address these individually; don't create a PD to blanket the entire staff with topics meant for one or two.
  • Communication is essential; no one should have to guess why this PD is taking place. Well ahead of time, clearly articulate what you are asking staff to learn/do, and why. Is this something required by the state? Does this address an area of weakness in the school performance profile? Do you feel it is relevant to topics our students are facing?
  • Utilize the professionals in your building(s). Are your experienced teachers involved in planning and presentation? What expertise do they have that they could share?
  • Consider giving PD options to your staff; trust them to choose what is most necessary, relevant or interesting to them.
  • Participate in PD alongside, not over, your staff. If you feel the PD is necessary for your building(s), join with your staff in the training, and be an invested participant.
  • Treat  your teachers as professionals, even if/when they don't behave that way. Model professionalism.


Teachers (and sometimes PD presenters):


  • Professional Development is a Professional opportunity; behave like a Professional. It's not time to grade papers, text friends, carry on a conversation, or critique the presenter. Even if you do not like or appreciate the PD, it is your responsibility to attend and learn. Set an example for your colleagues.
  • Commit to learning. Whether the PD is a training mandated by your district, part of advanced degree work, or a pursuit of interest, approach it with a learner's attitude: what can I take away from this and apply?
  • Respect the presenter(s). Make eye contact. Nod. Refrain from scowling or shaking your head in disagreement. (You can address areas of conflicting opinion personally, not in public.) Thank the presenter for his/her time. 
  • Experienced teachers: be willing to be involved. Avoid cynicism and criticism--in yourself or in your colleagues. Care. Model the learning attitude you desire in your students. A new teacher is not an "annoying know-it-all". He/She may have valuable information and skills to share. Besides, being a listener is a great way to establish a relationship in which you can contribute to the new teacher.
  • Newer teachers: be willing to be involved, and be willing to be a learner. Avoid the all-knowing smug look. An experienced teacher is not a "cave man" just because his/her tactics differ from your current training. "New" is not always "Better".


Together we can give new meaning to both words:


PROFESSIONAL

DEVELOPMENT


Let's Do This!

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