In schools around the world, teachers and administrators are participating in professional development. It is a term beginning to be thrown around lightly. “I think I am going to take off Friday so I can skip PD.” “The students have the day off so we can attend yet another pointless professional development.” Although professional development is aimed towards improving teaching practices, some teachers see PD as a common time where teachers can catch up on grading papers, check their emails, or use the time to scroll their cell phones to see the latest trends in social media.
Professional development is supposed to be a time where educators acquire new skills or knowledge. This could come in the form of watching a video, reviewing an article, listening to a guest speaker, observing strategies being modeled, or receiving training on a new program being implemented at their school.
Instead of leaving PD complaining, “I can’t believe administration has us trying something else new. We have enough to do as it is,” educators should walk away excited and eager to implement something that will improve student learning. Morale should be high. Teachers should be collaborating with one another to find ways they can make these new ideas work. PD is not about racing to Teachers Pay Teachers or Pinterest to find new activities. Instead, it is about acquiring new knowledge to enhance professional growth, eventually leading to improved student achievement.
When planning for a PD, make sure it is meaningful for teachers and administrators. Is there something they can walk away with or is it something that will take up time because the district scheduled a mandatory PD day?
When attending PD, don’t go in with a negative attitude. Be excited. When you leave, ask yourself: What did I learn? What new strategy or idea can implement? How can I use this to grow as an educator? The teaching profession is not stagnant, we cannot be either. We must challenge ourselves to improve and grow. If you have doubts, remember, the kids are counting on us to brighten their future, to instill skills to be successful. They are future leaders.
Brandi Leggett is a National Board Certified Teacher as a Middle Childhood Generalist. She received her master’s in Elementary Education from Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa. She currently teaches third grade at Prairie Ridge Elementary in Shawnee, Kan. Follow her class during the school year at Team Leggett.