Thursday, September 15, 2011


Professional Development (PD) in the schools most often frustrates administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, and related service personnel. Administrators are frustrated because of budgetary constraints, staff attitudes and little lasting impact to what they find to be 'good' PD for their districts. Teachers are aggravated because they are not vested and feel devalued in the process as their needs and interests are not being met. They are achieving high scores on Word with Friends, but nothing to truly impact their teaching. Paraprofessionals, a group most interested in getting new information, is the group most neglected and considered last in planning. Related service people (SLP, OT, PT, APE, etc.) are mandated to attend PD having no relevance to their responsibilties nor expertise. It is a wonder that good PD even occurs, does it occur?

The best PD for educators is one that is relevant, timely, needed, and impacting. PD that allows participants to be valued, vested and supported. Current PD modules are primarily a point and shoot PD; have the participants take a pretest, watch a video, and take a post-test. This makes is easy for administrators as they can essentially check off who has completed what and move on. BUT, what do the participants get - little, other than the check in their file. Other districts use the guest speaker approach - he/she comes in and does a song and dance routine, a canned presentation, with little short or long term impact - not a lot of bang for the buck.

Recent literature supports the development of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). PLCs encourage participant buy-in, a supportive learning environment, individual and collective learning. The strength of PLCs lie in the necessary group interaction. Many schools have formed PLCs around a shared text, topic, or inquiry; some have met success. Problems arise in trying to schedule a mutually convenient time that becomes a shared, committed priority. People today are "stretched" - family, work, regular life - don't forget you need to 'do it all to have it all' and one more responsibility might just send you over the edge. I know it would me. So, what's a district to do? How can they provide the appropriate and required PD?

Hmmmmmmmmm, that's the magic bullet question, more, next time...........................

It’s a Great Day!

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