Eliminating Professional Development from Our School

You read the title right. We have eliminated professional development from our school this year. Gone. Done. Out. Never again will I utter those words. And you know why…If you are a school administrator, you completely understand why that term is persona non grata. Teachers hate it. Honestly, how does your staff respond when you announce todays PD presentation? If there are not audible moans and groans, you are lucky. When is the last time your teachers left a PD session with a smile? Or went the entire session without having a laptop open or papers to grade in front of them? Exactly.

Over the summer I tried to figure out how to fix this problem. I thought of all kinds of things…none of which I thought would work. Then I had an epiphany. I started to think about what we are asking our teachers to do with our students. Are we telling them to provide lessons that are one size fits all? Are we asking them to provide sit and get instruction? Are asking them to stay well within their comfort zones when providing instruction to students? No. So why are we asking them to sit through the very things we are telling them not to do? Hence my epiphany. Why should I develop “that which I will not name” for my teachers?

I decided to something radical. Usually when I do this, I end up getting my hand slapped by someone in central office, but so be it. I decided that I was not going to prescribe some canned PD for my peeps this year. I was going to ask them to do what we asking them to do for our kids. I decided that they would do an Adult Learning Plan. I know what you’re thinking. Same concept, different term. No. Not even close. Here is what I asked them to do.

Our district provides us with four early release days for PD for our teachers. I am not planning one thing for them. I have asked them to create their own plan for their own adult learning. I have given them a few guidelines. First, it has to be something that stretches their skills and talents as a teacher. Second, it has to something technology related (we are rolling out a 1:1 Chromebook initiative this year). Third, it must be something that they can directly apply to their classroom for use with their students. Last, the have to accumulate 15 hours of adult learning during the entire year (12 of which they can do during the early release days).

The idea is that these are professionals. We talk about getting better every day as our faculty motto. My epiphany was if they are professionals, and they want to get better at their craft, than it is my job to give them the time and the resources to do both. That is why I eliminated traditional PD at my school. I put it back in the hands of the professionals I work with, trusting that they will use the opportunity to enhance their teaching skills. This, I believe, will then benefit our students.

If you would like to see the documents I am using to monitor their progress and set the expectations, send me an e-mail. I would be more than happy to share in the demise of traditional…I can’t even type the word anymore. You know what I mean…

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About drellena

Principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County, Virginia. President of the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals.
This entry was posted in Professional Development, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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