Education Reform: Professional Development

Roland Barth- Improving Schools From Within

Ongoing, continual, lifelong…GROWTH.

Those should be the benchmark of ANY educator. Being a lifelong learner, striving to continuously hone a craft that tries (and too often fails) to keep abreast of all that is speeding along in our world.

In 2005, there were teachers I knew who still hated using a computer, rarely if ever checked their emails, fought tooth and nail not to look at the up and coming Smart Boards…yet, they also refused to see how their students embraced the same technology they pushed to the side.

As you’ve read on previous posts of mine, I do not advocate just tossing out the old that still resonates (Curse(ive)s, Foiled Again!). But, the times, they are a changin’, and too many in education are stuck in doing the same old thing just dressed up in new packages.

The worst part: too many look at Professional Development (PD) sessions as a waste of time OR as a day “off” from the school. My favorite teacher (then working in 6th grade) said, when she found out I was on my second Masters, that she “was done” with school/learning. Don’t you just love her? This is the same teacher who, when presented with a one and a half page Teacher’s Guide for a FREE Arts Education trip, refused to read it with the comment “I don’t have time to read.” Woe to her student who had that same excuse, though. BTW, just so you know I’m not just off on a rant tangent, she was also one of the very vocal teachers who tried to get out of going to any PD. Any.

Teachers Are Lifelong Learners

Below you’ll find a number of sites that deliver Professional Development content. I don’t feel that we should just buy into a new theory that was developed in an education lab but never really field tested in urban schools (Teacher’s College). I think we really need to look at HOW what should be taught can be done for the good of the students, not the assessment for numbers that we have in place.

The teacher AND principal who keeps in mind that they are role models, the adults who the kids see most of their waking hours, who have the ability to shape OUR future, and our children’s and theirs…and we should always be learning, to hone and embrace what we need to do to keep up with Planet Earth.


Professional Development: Continuing Education

How Professional Development For Teachers Works

PD To Improve Student Achievement

PBS TeacherLine: Professional Development K-12

PD Resources for Teachers

Principal Professional Development

Designing Powerful PD’s for Teachers and Principals

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. danroberson
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 22:46:57

    Since I was a teacher, the last four years in alternative education, I agree that schools have to keep pace with technology. In a few years schools could be totally online and some of the dinosaurs could be in trouble. I taught longer than most but still belileved in progress. Keep up your good work.


  2. Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 00:12:15

    Stuart- this is a real problem. The joke (on the students) is not only that these “teachers” still exist- but that they report to principals, administrators, and politicians that are absolutely NO different.
    I read a post today that lamented (her #10 that voters must be educated to vote. My reply was WHO gets to determine who is knowledgeable? That is the same problem with accrediting teachers- who determines who is a “good” teacher and how?
    Is a teacher who can teach the very brightest among us and spur them to devour information- but is unable to teach basic skills a BAD teacher? Or a GREAT teacher? What about the converse? And, as I told Lisa, I agree with your intent. It’s the execution (pun perhaps intended) that I find problematic…


  3. Harley King
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 05:36:12

    The key here is that we all need to be life-long learners. I meet people in my adult classes that haven’t read a book since college and they are proud of it. I also believe that learning does not just happen in the classroom.

    I have often sat next to someone on an airplane and through conversation learned something of value. I once since next to a man who worked in the trucking industry. He told me he could tell when a recession was coming six months before it was announced. He said the number shipping orders dropped and there was an increase in the number of truckers applying for jobs.

    Learning can happen anywhere and any place as long as a person is open to learn.


    • bornstoryteller
      Aug 04, 2011 @ 06:04:41

      Harley, totally agree. I was zeroing in on Educators, but yes… I don’t understand people who don’t think learning anything new is worthwhile. We have such a big world, and so many things that I still don’t know. I love to learn and find out new things. Thanks for the comment. I’ll take life long learners for $2,000, Alex.


  4. bornstoryteller
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 05:54:00

    Roy, I agree: I “picked” on the teachers here, but that is also why I put in PD’s for the principals. THEY need it as well…and to be honest, so do our freaking Politicos.

    Not sure what you find problematic in the intent that anyone in the education field needs further trainin, but…I will read the post you linked later. I’m off to work in a few.



  5. Ms. JMB
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 16:05:05

    Unfortunately, my experience with “professional development” falls into two categories, neither of which would support any lofty attributes. The categories are:

    1. Required; you pay for it. I have been “strongly requested” to take professional development taught by a paid “consultant,” yet I am the one who has to pay for this “valuable educational opportunity!” I am not paid for my attendance in any way (meaning I am not compensated for my time in transferrable credits, much less salary or time).

    2. Required as after-school “duty”; no credit or compensation. This type of professional development tends to start with at least an hour’s worth of meet-greet-snack time, with the actual development frequently interrupted by sidebar conversations of groups who have known each other for years. I am not attending for social time; I am there because I am required to be there and because I hope to actually learn something of value in the profession — and not about schoolhouse gossip.

    I no longer attend “professional development” not presented and taught by university-level instructors that lacks credit or some other type of recompense.

    I have a master’s degree and have taught for nearly 10 years, all of it spent in disadvantaged schools.


    • bornstoryteller
      Aug 04, 2011 @ 22:12:55

      I took back what i wrote simply because I was trying to be nice last night, and in the light of day, reading what i wrote, really was my just trying to please you. I was also exhausted, and that is no excuse.

      Your attitude of dismissal of PDs INSTEAD of working for better Instructional PDs is one of the problems; The other is the problem that the teachers who don’t see it as an opportunity FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE STUDENTS, as opposed to a waste of their time.

      Guess what? YOU took the job, which should be SOLELY about the students, not you. Period. The more educated you are, the better you are for the students. This was the attitude of the teacher that I grew to have NO respect for.

      When the teacher becomes more important than the student..that is the problem.

      You don’t like the PD’s offered? Then open your mouth by GOING and finding ones you think will be beneficial, instead of throwing in the towel. More work? Tough. That’s the life of a teacher. Don’t complain about it…do something to change it.


  6. Denise Ahlquist
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 16:44:00

    Check out at if you are interested in authentic life-long learning. We have various professional development offerings for teachers in our Shared Inquiry (TM) method of learning (questioning strategies, group discussion). Also, Great Books programs, events and discussion groups for learners from kindergarten to adult. Our PD and programs have a solid research base and have been widely recognized as effective over the years. Very compatible with the new Common Core Standards on argumentation and reading texts at higher levels of complexity. Teachers who are offered relevant, effective PD (including follow-up support) are much more likely to keep learning, in my experience.


  7. Kara
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 23:25:01

    Ms JMB,
    I am an administrator who attempts to provide thought provoking, timely PD opportunities to teachers who believe that it’s a waste of their time. I’m sorry, I can’t hear you because I can see your test scores. If you were truly interested in providing the latest information for your students and providing it with technology that they use in every aspect of their lives……except at school, then you would be knocking people over to get in to the PD sessions. Instead you sit in the back and criticize the presenter, the temperature of the room, the comfort of the chairs and most importantly, the food provided during your one hour after schools session.
    I am sick of hearing how hard you work grading papers and planning lessons. I see your performance. You didn’t spend too much time planning after school….remember you have a planning period and your students are gone by 3. At other jobs that pay $40,000 you are expected to work til 5 without one or two weeks off in spring, summer, fall and winter. Those employees don’t do snow dances. They go to work every day. I have my Master’s too, and an EdS and and EdD. I know you will find this hard to understand……I still attend PD. I know I have something to learn.
    I do attend PD not offered by university instructors. I find that most of them have no concept of teaching children who must pass an exit exam and graduate. With the new requirements for college graduation from state funded schools, the universities will find that they too must change their teaching styles to engage learners. They will need some PD from K-12 teachers when those laws go into effect


    • bornstoryteller
      Aug 05, 2011 @ 06:40:09

      Kara; Thank you so much for your comment. I should not have supported the laziness of the previous post. Learning is lifelong, and JMB proved she/he does not see that. Nor does he/she see what is the most important thing: learning and honing one’s craft so you can do what’s important: pass this onto the students.

      I also do NOT feel that University instructors who only know theory (New York University, for the most part, as an example) should be teaching soon to be teachers or current teachers. For the most part, they have little to no practical work behind them. People who put the work into practice and are accomplished Professional Development Coordinators and Facilitators should be planning and running these PD’s, and many should come from within the field. Training and learning should be the most important.

      Thank you again for replying. Please pass this onto other principals and teachers if you could.


  8. Harley King
    Aug 05, 2011 @ 07:35:31

    I may not be a teacher in the school system, but I think I bring a broader perspective to this issue. I have spent 35 years in health care, two-thirds of those years as a speaker, trainer and developer of people. The lack of interest in professional development is not unique to teachers. Health care professionals resist continuing education. They will attend sessions just to get their CEUs so they can continue to be licensed. I have seen them sitting in the back of rooms reading newspapers or doing paperwork. And it is not just health care professionals. My experience is most people in most professions resist going to class and learning new ideas. Once they are out of school they don’t want to go back.

    One indication for me as to whether people like to learn or not is where they sit in the classroom. Do the teachers who go to the professional development sessions sit in the back of the room? If they do, they are like everyone else including their students. If you want to learn, you should take a seat up front.

    Another indication of whether people are life-long learners is whether they are willing to pay for the education on their own or do they expect their organization to pay for it? I have spent thousands of dollars of my own money learning to be a better speaker and trainer. If one needs to learn something, one shouldn’t wait for others to give them permission. As a classroom trainer, I recently have had to shift some of my training to the webinar format. I now spend time participating in webinars so I can learn how others do it and then improve it.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment.



    • bornstoryteller
      Aug 05, 2011 @ 19:47:06

      Thank you Harley. I really believe there are life long learners that don’t need the PD’s, who make discoveries in even the smallest of things to those, like yourself, search out new skills. I did that after my first Masters: found a one month intensive on puppetry, paid for it, and had a blast.


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