For most teachers, the words “professional” and “development” used closely together and sent in an e-mail (usually with the word “mandatory” thrown in there), is akin to wasting an hour (or three) of their time.
Time they could be planning. Time they could be getting ahead. Time they could making copies.
Trainings are seen as a waste of time.
And to top it all off, they’re boring, probably involves an uncomfortable chair or bench, and the coffee sucks — if there is any.
As a new-to-district coordinator, this tells me a few things about culture — a few things I want to change.
Although most have read or been through trainings on #GrowthMindset, this great aversion to professional development is a one symptom of a fixed mindset.
Especially in my instructional technology realm, I hear, “I’m just not a technology person” or, “It’ll change in a few weeks anyway, why learn now” or even, “I don’t use technology in my classroom” when I show up to a campus to build capacity.
Saying you aren’t a technology person is also saying that you won’t become one. That’s a fixed mindset. Using the every-evolving nature of technology as an excuse not to learn about any technology is also a fixed mindset. And the ultimate “I don’t use technology” excuse is probably just not true.
At one point you learned how to use the projector, how to log into the computer, how to use the document camera, and how to print to a variety of printers around your campus. You use technology in your classroom.
I’d love to dive head first into growth mindset and see administrators and teachers really living it — committing to learning and growing together despite the stress of possibly not succeeding the very first time you try something new.
Hearing such hostility toward professional development also makes me think of some cultural issues that may need to be addressed.
Questions about PD are valid: Is this worth my time? Will this help my students be successful? Will this allow me to grow as a professional? Will I be a better teacher in some way because of this training?
The answers to those questions should be yes. If there’s a “no” in there somewhere, I reconsider the training or the format of the training or the word “mandatory”.
Perhaps these teachers have been tormented in the past with less than worthwhile PD. Perhaps the objectives weren’t clear on how the training would benefit the teacher. Perhaps they were too long, not differentiated, and flat out boring.
If so, we gotta change this part of culture.
Tranings should always be beneficial. They should always be differentiated. And they should always be uplifting.
Sit and get to every teacher on campus should go out the door. We expect so much more that sit and get from teachers in their classrooms, the least we can do is model our expectations in our trainings.
For you and me, since we don’t make district-wide decisions, we have to lead from wherever you are.
If you give trainings like I do, let’s try and make every training worthwhile. Maybe we ask ourselves, “Does this really warrant taking their entire hour and a half conference or could I get it done in half the time?”
We can always look at the time, place, learning path, and pace of our training and see what the learners can have control over. Yeah — I’m talking #blendedyall.
Let’s innovate our trainings in the way we want our students to learn in the classroom.
If you attend trainings, let’s try and shift our mindset to one of growth. Ask thoughtful questions. Make connections to the work you do and the work you want to do. Participate fully in the training. Ask for differentiation before the day of the training. Hold the trainers to the same expectations you hold for yourself. If you find yourself wanting to ask, “Do I have to go to that?”, think about replacing that question with “Oh I get to go to that?” and go in expecting to grow.
Professional development has a bad reputation. Only we can change that.