Professional DevelopmentI have never once in my 29 years of teaching learned anything of value in any Professional Development meetings at any of the three schools I have worked in. I learn by...

Professional Development

I have never once in my 29 years of teaching learned anything of value in any Professional Development meetings at any of the three schools I have worked in. I learn by doing and trial and error with my students. I want to know how other teachers feel about PD?

Expert Answers
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I feel the term is way too loosely applied, and I feel your pain.  The problem, I feel, is that PD is not usually conducted by your colleagues, teachers, it is conducted by administrators (who never taught or have forgotten what it was like when they did teach) or by consultants, who are from outside the school and don't know the dynamics of the staff or the student population.

It's part of the fundamental (and schizophrenic, I think) mistrust people have of teachers and their abilities.  Harsh truth, but I don't know what else explains it.  We could conduct the PD much more effectively, just leave us alone and give us the time with some loose professional guidelines.  But the state says "test on these things" because obviously we can't be trusted to know what's important and effective on our own, after all, we're only the experienced professionals.  And administrators are expected to be the leaders of the school, even if in an educational sense, that's really not practical or even sensible.

I've never met a teacher who feels differently than you do.  We sit through the meetings shoving pencils into our eye and thinking of the more important things we could be doing :-)

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I taught in Florida, PD was wonderful...that was many years ago.  The way they conducted PD in our county there was to allow teachers to sign up for the PD offerings.  These offerings were put together by teachers in the county in areas of their expertise, so you could choose from whatever area you wanted to learn more about or had a weakness --some examples were "teaching poetry," "classroom management 101," "Best Practices for approaching short stories," etc. These offerings would be typed up and sent to all schools in teh county.  We would sign up for the four we most wanted to attend, if a workshop didn't get any interest, it didn't make the cut that month.  Most of the time, it worked out that workshops weren't too crowded, and we really had some good groups.  Twice a month school was released early, and we traveled to the school hosting the workshop we were enrolled in for that PD.  It was great! I always left with activities and ideas I could use the very next day, and my creative juices runneth over.


scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with you for the most part concerning PD. However, a couple of years ago, my district started a summer academy. When the economy was better, we had speakers such as Michael LoMonico (a Shakespeare guhru) and Danny Lawrence from the College Board come and conduct workshops. The academy was not required, and we could choose which PDs we wanted to attend. I learned so much from just those two workshops that I've adapted and used many times since. That being said, I've never gained anything from District or State Professional Development that is required and that occurs during the school year. The speakers are usually far removed from any type of classroom experience or simply salesmen for various educational companies. It drives me crazy that we waste time and money on this type of garbage, and this is another area where those at the top are willing to cut teachers' jobs in order to be able to continue citing all the wonderful PD opportunities they offer.

sboeman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Our high school schedules staff PD every Wednesday morning.  We've been pushing for more teaming time for years, but we often get burdened with speakers, technology workshops that never pan out, and staff meetings instead.  This past week we did another "True Colors" activity - the third time in three years - even though our school just switched to a new schedule and the staff is overburdened with the new common assessments that have recently trickled down.

I admit I do like motivational speakers, but I think their messages are very short-lived and it's not exactly a worthwhile investment for a cash-strapped school.  I remember how I'm supposed to be a "balcony person" and keep "all kids in my wheelbarrow", but I don't remember what these are supposed to mean!  Lynn30k, I've never heard the "water the bamboo" approach!

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the most productive professional development I've been a part of were the FEW staff meetings where we met in small groups to share tips and success stories of classroom management.

Professional Development to me is the continuation of pointless education classes in college.  I second the idea that the best way to learn is by trial and error, and of course, stealing ideas and copying teachers who do things better.  Too much of public education is in the habit of number crunching, form filling, and box checking.  This, likely because it is government run.  Go figure.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Professional Development--oxymoron?  Just kidding.  Kind of.  Anyway, the best workshops/seminars/presentations I've been in have one of two things in common.  They either re-motivate and re-energize me (as in convention speakers) or they offer me something practical for my classroom teaching.  The latter type is generally presented by fellow teachers sharing best-practice or experience-based material.  I agree with my colleagues above--generally the longer a presenter has been out of the real world of the classroom, the less applicable the presentation is to me. 

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Agree. The most beneficial things we have had lately are instructions on how to access info that is now stored on the school's internal network. Makes my job easier. The worst are the ones that are scheduled during those vital 3 or so days at the beginning of the year before the students are back. We had one this year that may have been OK as a *voluntary*, feel-good speaker in another setting--but he was half an hour late, and we then spent an hour and a half learning we should "water our bamboo."  Really.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm trying to remember what I've learned in PD meetings that was useful and effective and which became a part of me . . . . surely there was something! There was, but the list is short.

1. Cooperative learning.

2. Teaching to different learning styles/ multiple intelligences.

3. Incorporating technology into the classroom.

4. Graphic organizers.

That's it, but these four have served me well for years and years.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree with the opinions that other editors have expressed here. Unfortunately, too much of the professional development I have received has been delivered by managers who have been out of the classroom for so long that what they have to say bears no relation to reality. The few sessions that have been worthwhile have been from acting practitioners who are really committed to trying and improving practice.

kristenfusaro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree with the original poster, with the exception of a few professional developments that I attended. One was with Facing History and Ourselves -- excellent materials, and wonderful pedagogy that can be applied to many subjects. Also took a week-long course with The CollegeBoard for Advanced Placement English Lit -- amazing class -- so many strategies and freebies -- excellent, excellent resource!!

MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I absolutely agree. I've been to adaptive schools training, small learning communities training, thinking maps training, Cornell notes training, AVID training, AP training...I'm bored already. The only ones that offered any viable strategies/concepts were the AVID and AP trainings. I've found that discussing in small groups with my colleagues and demonstrating lessons to each other produces the best results.