Professional development is important. It’s something that schools and leadership teams need to value and see as an investment in high quality learning. Having said this, when we decide to shell out substantial resources (money or closure days etc) we have an expectation that it will be money well spent.
I have been to a few professional development sessions recently that, although they have given me good things to take away, have left me feeling like something was missing. For me it was the ‘big picture’ stuff. They didn’t quite have the hook that challenged my thinking to the point where I felt a need to act on something. Speaking with other staff at my school, some agreed with me, but many loved these sessions. They felt that they had ‘hit the mark’ for them.
We know that one speaker or session isn’t going to suit everyone’s needs. Like our students, we all come with different experiences, different passions, different roles, a different number of years in the job… so how do we do this better? We aim for differentiation for our students. Should we doing more to provide this for teachers or is that unrealistic? With school and department priorities in the mix, can we really offer good differentiation for our teachers? I’d like to think so.
There is no doubt that professional development is an important part of our job as teachers. If I’m honest, I love it (I can hear you scoffing). Being able to earn a living and continue learning new things is a wonderful part of being a teacher. When you attend a great PD, you come away feeling inspired and it improves the way you do your job. It improves learning.
After having attended some fantastic PD, my expectations are high. If I am taking a day out of the classroom I really want it to be worthwhile. Today, I attended a training session for a program that our school is involved in. Although the program is a worthwhile one, the training left a lot to be desired.
Being connected is a big part of how I learn. Rather than work in isolation, I have become accustomed to sharing and learning from others in digital spaces. We all know the drill. We know that Twitter and other networks have a valuable role in our learning. Along side this is the fact that ICTs and digital technologies are a big part of our Australian Curriculum and of our Professional Standards for Teachers.
The first thing I saw when I arrived at today’s session was this:
It sucked the enthusiasm right out of me. In my opinion, ANY professional development sanctioned by our department NEEDS to embrace connected learning. If my child was to go into a classroom where technology was banned, I wouldn’t be happy. I think we need to have the same standards for our teachers.