Quick and Easy Fixes to Professional Development
Continuous improvement is part of every professional educator’s career. This usually means taking part in some sort of professional development. Professional development takes place at school, on your planning time, or online. This can be a challenge for teachers who are in command throughout the school day of their own classroom. Having to shift from the provider of information and the norms in which these messages are conveyed to the student who is expected to listen to the information and follow the norms potentially created by someone else. Likewise the teacher is the timekeeper in the classroom who carefully monitors what students do in rationed amounts of time and instructs the students when it is time to transition to other activities. When the tables are turned it is all a teacher can do but watch the clock for when they return to their domain and become the instructor of all things again.
What can we do to reverse these impatient feelings that may overcome us during professional development?
Empowerment is a good start. Allowing teachers to become part of the “development” part of professional development means that teacher leaders communicate with their counterparts to identify what topics are most desired during PD. Like students in the classroom who want to “go outside” or “do something fun today” teachers are also eager to do something that is meaningful to their own needs. If kids need to play to enjoy their time perhaps then so do teachers.
Making ideas practical and easy to use in the classroom is another simple fix for teachers. Teachers are learners too. This means that not every teacher “gets it” right away. Their resolve may not be in identifying how to use this in the classroom. Instead they be focusing on the fact that is won’t work in their classroom. The providers of PD can start with this in mind and develop adaptations that are convincing and practical for content areas and elective courses alike.
Finally by offering a choice to teachers the providers of professional development are leveraging the sometimes required part of PD with a greater buy in of ideas. Ideally, professional development is voluntary. As educators we know full well that “ideal” is a statement of ideas and the real world doesn’t work in ideals. A choice of topics and methods in which PD is offered can help with this.