Teachers, have you ever said or thought any of the following about professional development?
“Man, I wish he didn’t use PowerPoint.”
“Why are we here?”
“What is the point of this?”
“Did he really just tell that guy to shut his computer?”
“How does this connect to the last time we were here? I don’t see why this is relevant.”
“This could be done so many other ways that would be so much better for me.”
“I can’t believe I have to sit here for this. What a waste of my time!”
Yup, I’ve been there too. I feel like I’ve sat through so many meetings that weren’t focused to my needs for my classroom, students, or my school. I don’t fault administration completely. Often administrators have little time to coordinate activities; sometimes administrators are told what to do.
Revisit the list above. Do students say the same about your classroom or classes in your school?
What if they do? Why do teachers mimic teaching that we, in turn, dislike during our own professional development? Teachers will argue we have little time to differentiate; students will waste time if we give it up; the job is too complex; we have requirements we must follow… The same arguments that an administrator makes about why professional development is poor are the same arguments teachers make about why classroom teaching hasn’t changed.
It’s time to change the system! Teachers, give students control over what they learn. Set the expectations HIGH. Don’t let them slack on understanding or waste time. Demand a high level of accountability. Yes, this takes work, but the alternative seems to settle for mediocre (at best) education.
Think about the BEST professional development plan or experience that you, as a teacher, in which would like to participate. Then flip the roles and ensure your classroom meets the same needs for your students.
I am amazed how simple education can be sometimes. As individuals, we know what kind of “meeting” we do not want to sit through. Why, then, do we put our students through 7 meetings a day for 180 days?
An education revolution can be very simple. Let’s begin by leading our classrooms the way we would want to learn, with the freedom to explore!