We all know that PD delivered to a gymnasium full of teachers whose students range from early elementary to high school (or whose subject matter ranges from English to science to physical education to band to culinary arts to math) more closely resembles a hit-or-miss, drive-by splattering of vague educational jargon than the classroom-changing, student-impacting experience that teachers and students deserve. What if instead of herding all teachers into one room for a one-size-fits-all bore-fest, teachers were trusted to find PD that fits their needs and paid for time spent on what will impact their students the most?
Although my district tried to provide a structure for teachers to collaborate in PLNs, many of us felt constrained by what we were told to do during our PLN (Professional Learning Network) times. Fortunately, our district listened to our frustrations and revised its PD plan.
Last year, as our district progressed rapidly toward 21st century learning practices with flexible learning furniture for all classrooms and an iPad for every student, our leadership recognized that teachers would need a lot of training to best prepare for and take full advantage of these changes. As the end of the school year approached, many of us felt anxious about how we would find the time to learn the best iPad apps for our curriculum while also reorganizing our classrooms for the new furniture. District leadership responded with a generous summer PD plan:
- Three extra paid days (optional) in June to:
- take district-offered workshops (Next Generation Science Standards, new math curriculum, iPad training, etc.)
- work on our own PD, either in our classrooms or collaborating with colleagues
- attend an iOS Summit, paid for by the district
My own site admin also offered four extra paid days (optional) in August:
- one day of iPad workshops
- three days to work in our classrooms (THREE DAYS! PAID! WITH NO MEETINGS! It was amazing.)
I am confident that my district is headed in the right direction by allowing (and paying) teachers to make decisions about what PD will be most beneficial to us and our students. But this is just the beginning. How else can teachers be given the time, resources, and compensation needed to make PD work for them?