It was 3 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon. Stacks of papers to grade, engaging lessons to plan, and saving the world (or at least it felt that way), when I had to leave my classroom to attend a mandatory professional development (PD) training. I repeat, mandatory.
Some of the immediate (and censored) thoughts that ran through my head:
The struggle is real for anyone who attends mandatory PD.
I tried to fight it, but that didn't work.
I tried to embrace it, but it was so awful at times.
Eventually I realized it's not me, it's you (the idea of mandatory PD, not the trainer delivering it).
Then in April 2015, on a whim, I signed up for a one-hour Engaging Students with Technology course and it was amazing! I wasn't distracted. I wasn't scoffing at the trainer. What was that feeling?
I was engaged. I thought of ways to integrate what I learned the next day into my lessons. More importantly, I had honest, authentic discussions with my colleagues about how this would look in our classrooms with our students.
What was different about the Engaging training than all the ones before, other than it was voluntary?
After reading Cindy Strickland's Professional Development for Differentiating Instruction, it comes down to three questions:
Is the training relevant?
Learners need to know the relevancy of the information being presented, and teachers participating in PD are no different. Here are a few pointers to make your training relevant:
Does the presentation style depict best practices?
The phrase 'best practices' is overused. How about we call it effective teaching? Whether the participants are young students or veteran teachers, good teaching is good teaching. Here are things to consider when developing a PD training:
Does it create a community of learners?
Let's say no to 'drive-by' trainings.
Let's say no to 'never see you again.'
Instead, let us create a community of learners. A group of teachers committed to improving themselves and their craft. A group of teachers who understand that learning does not end because the training ended. Consider the following to create this environment:
Full disclosure: The training I attended in April 2015 was through the Technology Training and Support department, I currently work for them as a District Resource Teacher.
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Michelle Moore is a public education advocate who strives to empower schools and teachers to positively impact student success.
Disclaimer: This blog is a representation of my views alone and do not represent in any way the views of the school districts, organizations, or persons that I collaborate with.