Seems like I'm always talking about PD. I used to love professional development. I enjoyed having choices, getting to learn about lots of things to improve my practice. Although I actually still enjoy PD, I now see the "dark side"- required professional development that someone else seems to think will improve my or other teachers' practice. We all know that some things are necessary for all to stay on top of, but so many PD sessions are so boring, that even if it's good material, I stopped listening a long time before they got to the "good part". I recently read an article by Dean Shareski, entitled Bad PD is Sometimes Your Own Fault. And yes, I agree that we can also substitute staff meeting for PD. I have met Dean, listened to him present at various conferences over the years and have a lot of respect for both the breadth and depth of his knowledge. However, he is looking at this from his perspective as a PD provider. I also agree with some of his statements about factors of time, community and context that are often problematic. But- they don't have to be! Here in Hadley it's a pretty darn small community. We can pay attention to context, to what the needs of our community are- if we take the time to listen to the teachers and staff. If we actually ask for and use their input, I think we could serve the "needs of the district" by meeting the needs of the teachers and students. Give them a voice and a choice, please.
Along those same lines, I also read Keith Westman's article entitled, " I Can't Ask Our Teachers to Do One More Thing". Funny, since it seems like although I have heard that sentiment, I know that almost every teacher and staff member I know is asked to do one more thing on a regular basis. Again, we hear about voice and choice. We have all seen new initiatives come through the doors- on an annual basis. What makes them stick? Time, price-ROI, usefulness in the classroom? What role does the administration take in this? What is the role of the educator?
What Makes a Good Teacher Great?
This really resonated with me. Is it a love of teaching? A love of learning? Most of the best teachers I have had, teachers that I know, are people who listen, who love to learn and to share with others. They have a voice; they choose how to present the content. They have learned to listen.
If we could take Azul's concluding statement and transfer it to teacher PD issues...teacher voice and choice- "And can you imagine if we took the time to ask those students, "What would make a good teacher great? And then we actually listened, we could transform schools and education.