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NY Teacher ponders the age-old question: Why are professional development workshops such a waste of time? In the case of her school, she says, it’s because all the teachers are forced to attend the same weekly PD session, regardless of whether the topic applies to their subject area. (Pity the poor gym teachers.) She wonders:

What if, instead of meeting whole school in the auditorium, we had smaller more specialized PD sessions? We could team up with other schools in the district so that social studies teachers, math teachers, early elementary teachers, etc. could work separately to really focus on their teaching areas.

Makes sense to us. And it’s more or less the kind of thing that researchers and teacher-development experts have been recommending for years and years. Old habits die hard, it appears.

1 Comment

That is a question I've pondered ever since I started teaching back in '97. I was surprised at the very low level of energy at these things, and even more by the amount of information that was actually taken back into the classrooms for practice--very little.
Your differentiated approach sounds great! If we 'talk up' so much the concept of offering students choices in our classes, we should not act as though the concept of choices somewhere/sometime/somehow disappear after secondary schooling. Simply offer teachers choices for staff development! And the more we can get teachers involved in the evaluating, researching, developing and facilitating of these programs the better. Then staff development becomes an organic system of checks and balances, a time and place to reflect on what we are discovering about what learning is, and what it isn't.
Kenneth Lagleder
Alpine, Texas

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