The personal learning network for educators
"A good deal of what passes for 'professional development' in schools is a joke-one we would laugh at if we were not trying to keep from crying. It is everything that a learning program shouldn’t be: radically under resourced, brief, not sustained, designed for 'one size fits all,' imposed rather than owned, lacking any intellectual coherence, treated as a special add-on event rather than part of a natural process, and trapped in the constraints of a bureaucratic system we have come to call 'school' (p. vii).
What do you think? Is Professional Development in 2015 still a joke?
I worked in the '80s for an educational service agency that sells professional development programs to school districts. My observation was that most of the PD programs failed to meet teachers' perceived needs for one or more reasons:
A conversation I recently overhead between two teachers who had attended a professional development day program the week before suggests there have been no significant changes since the 1980s.
I agree 100% and really appreciate your insights. I have also noticed that in higher education settings, teachers often feel that the "generic" concepts of improving teaching and learning do not directly link to their subject discipline concerns. Because teachers are often feeling overwhelmed with work loads and program specific problems, the relevance or association is nebulous.
Patricia Cranton (2006) stated in her textbook Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning that educator developers in higher education should be encouraging critical reflection in teachers and not just giving out answers. I agree with Cranton's perspective.
One person I've come to depend on for useful ideas in higher ed is Mary Ellen Weiner, who operates the Teaching Professor Blog at FacultyFocus.com.
PD is a source of contention at all levels, from Elementary to Secondary to Admin. I have been present at some that were immensely valuable and impact-full but also, at others that were a complete waste of time. Most that were educator directed, with relevant tasks, and had a direct impact on classroom, were valuable. Those that involve some kind of promotional aspect, like telling people what other people are doing or have done are useless. Educators want to know the how not the what and who. There are generally at least a few takeaways from most PD but for the most part the practice needs to be refined and improved such that educators go into the event with an expectation of value and not a waste of time.
Yes, educator directed, relevant, and time efficient are very important at all levels of pd.
Brady, I attend many online courses and webinars in fields outside education. From what I've seen, your observation about what people want from professional development, regardless of the field, is "the how not the what and the who."
Interesting question. I tend to agree with the camp that questions the format used in most schools today with the one size fits all presentations rather than working on individual's needs for development. That being said, I can understand how hard that is to accomplish. It might be impossible to do but if days could be set aside for teachers in which all the local Intermediate Units would have a ton of great programs in professional development to choose from, then teachers could choose what they needed.
Our district has gone to a break-out format. Sure, we sit for an hour and listen to someone discuss something that could be presented in 10 minutes. After that, we can pick which session fits our needs as an educator. It is the GREATEST! Then, at our following team meeting we discuss what we learned or how we are using it. Imagine that! We go to professional development and develop and grow.
"Teachers Teaching Teachers: