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Changing the culture of professional development...

Most students from across the country have returned to schools refreshed, recharged, and rejuvenated to continue their journey through
the educational process. As students use their summer break to relax
and simply be kids, teachers and administrators utilize their time to
both improve and develop their skills as educators. The summer provides
an excellent opportunity for all educators to refine and enhance their
abilities as facilitators of knowledge. Unfortunately, I think many
educators lose many of these opportunities once the school year begins
due to time constraints and lack of motivation, which I believe are
directly linked to low interest and lack of time.

For as long as I can remember, professional development days have been
loved by students, and dreaded by teachers. It is easy to see why the
students love professional development days, but I am somewhat perplexed
by the well documented research showing a lack of interest and desire
among educators as it pertains to professional development days.
Naturally as educators, we have an innate desire to learn, to grow, and
most importantly affect the lives of our students in a positive
way...and unless I am mistaken, isn't that the purpose of PD days? So, I
have to ask the obvious question...then why do we have so many
educators who dread the quarterly PD day?

Over the last couple years at my high school we have begun a
transformation that has drastically improved our PD days. We have not
only asked our teachers what they were interested in learning about, we
also listened to what they said and designed our PD days around the
needs and desires of our teachers. Additionally, we have recruited
teachers from our own staff (which saves money and strengthens
collaboration and sharing) to share their knowledge and expertise. This
has been extremely powerful in building camaraderie, as well as helping
to develop a team of instructional leaders who are not current
administrators.

Something I am really excited about for this year is the fact we will be
introducing PD strategies that can be utilized on a 24/7 basis. Why
should educators grow and develop only during the summer time and on
quarterly PD days? Shouldn't we help and give our teachers the
necessary knowledge to tap into professional development opportunities
they can access at any time? PLN's (professional learning networks),
blogs, and Twitter have all proven to be excellent resources when it
comes to giving educators a direct avenue to growing professionally
outside of the "typical" PD borders. The positive progression of
professional development days at my high school will continue to change
the average teacher's opinion of PD. Hopefully, as the professional
development culture changes, PD will become a day for which all teachers
long. Changing the culture of PD is one of the fastest and longest
lasting ways we can help educators grow professionally, which in turn
will improve overall success for all students.

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