Relevant Professional Development — #EdChat Summary: 02/07/12

Topic: What does your district/school do to provide relevant professional development (PD) for you and your colleagues?

I must admit, this #edchat was reminiscent of one that I participated in back in November. Happily, I summarized that one too, and so I just gave it a quick re-read to make sure I won’t simply be repeating myself (too much).

Some repetition is inevitable. For example, I read many, many complaints about traditional PD in November, and I read many, many complaints about tradition PD this week. But the conversation  has seemed to evolve a bit since then. Which is great.

I think Tom Whitby is sort of leading the charge on this one (he does tend to lead charges in education, doesn’t he?). His big point these days is that all people, especially teachers, should be “life-long learners.” The idea is that you don’t just stop learning and thinking about how to be a great teacher just because you have your teaching certificate framed at home. You keep going.

This point has become something of a rallying cry in #edchat – and for good reason! Almost all #edchat participants are, very clearly, life-long learners. They’re already self-motivated. They’re already out there seeking ways to better themselves and help their students.

The question is: how can school administration help those teachers that aren’t willing to help themselves? How can we design a system to pull the whole group forward, willingly or not?

Main themes from the discussion:

  • “Traditional” PD is just no good! I won’t waste any time going over this one again. I will simply say that “traditional” PD, which consists of a so-called expert rolling into town and talking to every single educator in a school about some random topic a couple times per year is useless. It should be quite obvious that it’s useless. But apparently it’s not (to many of the higher-ups). That’s unfortunate.
  • To be effective, PD needs to be folded into the regular schedule. I know it’s hard for teachers to find time to do anything “extra” these days (what with all the grading and the testing and the bureaucratic non-sense), but PD shouldn’t be considered “extra” at all. It is an essential ingredient to a quality education system. We can’t have teachers simply regurgitating the same lessons they crafted right out of school year after year until they retire. At least, we can’t have that if we want our students to succeed later in life. We need to make time for PD – and we need to make time for PD regularly. Once a week or maybe twice a month sounds about right.
  • Teachers should be more involved in shaping PD. We’re trying to move away from the “sage on a stage” method of teaching in everyday classrooms. So why are we preserving it when it comes to PD? If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander! Why fly in experts to talk about some random topic when, if we bothered to take the time to look around, we’d find experts on a myriad of topics sprinkled throughout the teaching staff of any school? It just doesn’t make sense – not financially and not any other way you slice it. If we want teachers to “buy in” to PD, then we need give them some power in shaping it. Check out November’s post for more information on that.
  • Teachers should be more in charge of their own PD. One of the ways that we could likely get more teachers to self-direct their own PD (as many in #edchat and elsewhere already do) would be to allow them to pursue topics that actually interest them. This is another idea that we’re playing with for younger students, so why don’t we adopt it for those adults that we’ve put in charge of teaching our children? The rationale sounds solid to me. If you give a teacher more choice in what he wants to learn about, he’s far more likely to really invest himself in it and get something out of it. Which, in turns, makes him a better teacher. It’s all about cultivating the life-long learner.
  • “No PD” is simply NOT an option. The necessary corollary to “give teachers more control in shaping PD” and “let a teacher choose his own PD methods” is this: you have to do something. Not only that, but you have to do something regularly. Again, once a week or once every other week seems about right. Of course, we need to relax our definition of PD if we’ll be requiring weekly participation. It’d be hard to attend a conference every week. Instead, online participation in programs like #edchat and many others should be included. As long as it’s something, it should be allowed. The hope is, of course, that by opening up the array of options, we’ll have more buy-in from those that traditionally opted out.

My favorite tweets from the discussion:

MsDittmar One of the greatest things my district does for me is allows access to Twitter. Without it and the #edchat community I would be lost.

Mamacita In 26 years, my former district had exactly ONE good PD for us. The rest were overpriced wastes of time.

MertonTech The problem with PD is its relevance is relative to the individual. Hard for a district to provide relevance for all.

tomwhitby How can PD workshops held once or twice a year on a conference day be relevant? How many schools continue this practice? PD must be part of the work week and supported w/follow through by all.

ProjectAdvance Teachers should be very involved in the PD selection process. Without their buy-in, the information may fall on deaf ears.

ugafrank All the stakeholders in PD need to be involved in design, implementation, and evaluation.

MertonTech For tech PD, give teachers a chance to co-teach with a tech expert. I love working with my teachers, and it is working for the kids.

tomwhitby Learning about pedagogy and content should never stop when one gets a degree, teaching license, or a job as a teacher.

MeetOkema With PD, everyone doesn’t learn the same. All modules won’t work. Neither will all trainers. Same topic in different forms?

cybraryman1 Why do so many educators here on Twitter say what they learned here is the best PD they ever received?

jrichardson30 Our first attempt with an edcamp, we had great success! Teacher feedback was overwhelmingly positive; wanting more.

John_DAdamo The only PD mandates should be: 1) you actually do some (self-directed), 2) you reflect on experience, and 3) you share your learning.

mikevigilant  I offered a Twitter PD just this morning! Only 6 people came, but it still went well.

vltreadway I provide Lunch Bytes. (1/2 hour drop in sessions.) Same teachers come every time though.

teacherdebra  Time is huge factor. Allow for technology days. Get subs & let these teachers collaborate.

tomwhitby Giving choices is fine as long as NO CHOICE is not a choice. Too many have gone down that path.

Mamacita I can’t respect adults in any profession who aren’t eager, avid learners; willing to upgrade skills, experiment, change routines.

kylepace The time for PD does not need to be found it needs to be made.

SECottrell The freedom to find my own PD is the most beneficial thing my administration has done for me.

daveandcori My district offers “PD” but low quality. I go looking for my own: Twitter, EdCamp, TechForum, ISTE, etc.

John_DAdamo A good admin finds a way to share the successful PD reflections/experiences by staff members with the community.

bennettscience We used flip for a conference 2 weeks ago with HUGE success. “Lecture” part of presentation was video, so it was all discussion during day.

sdavids51 Twitter works because it’s immediate and relevant info that I control. I get what I need and also get to share what I know.

A few resources that were shared:

Mr_Brett_Clark  Here is something I do as a coach in my school: Coach’s Menu We also have a summer elearning conference, July 11 & 12.

daveandcori Professional Development for Teachers needs to change –

cybraryman1 My Professional Development page:

j_allen A link to our recorded fall “Tech Tuesday” webinars.

NancyW The year long PD I am leading for 21st century learning has an open Grouply site you can explore:


To follow the complete discussion, look for the full archive here.  They’re usually posted up by the end of the week.

Looking to discuss #edtech in depth? Check out the LinkedIn group: Edutech Trends, Visions, Passions.

New to #EdChat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter.  Over 400 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts:

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.

What do you think? Leave a comment! We would love to hear from you.

2 Responses to Relevant Professional Development — #EdChat Summary: 02/07/12
  1. Pingback: Recent #Edchat Discussions January and February « Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

  2. Pingback: Teacher-Directed PD — #EdChat Summary: 3/6/12 | TestSoup

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