The snares, glares, and nasty looks that are oh so prevalent when the words professional development are mentioned are somewhat disheartening to people who truly love to learn. Imagine an organization where educators were actually excited about PD days… I know it sounds like a far-fetched imagination, but I believe it may be more feasible than we think!
I take pride in being the best that I can possibly be at everything I do. My job as a teacher is no different. I also have four kids, two of which are in the public school system now, and the other two will soon follow. I am fully aware that people learn in different ways, at different rates, and from different styles. Our society has finally started to accept this notion, and we have started pushing forward with innovative changes to the school systems around us. This makes me swell with joy and happiness as a mother and an educator.
Even though we are currently working on our educational system and how we personally reach such a variety of learners, we are still lacking in one of the most important areas- our educators. How can we expect today’s teachers to change everything they have done for years past and adopt a new way of doing their jobs, without providing them with effective, quality, ongoing training to set them up for success in their classrooms?
I work at Lamar Institute of Technology in Beaumont, TX. We are an extremely successful technical college, and take pride in providing our students with quality, hands-on training that is second to none. Having said that, we would never combine instrumentation students, radiology students, business technology students, and welding students in one class and expect them all to learn the same way, be engaged by the same material, and understand the same content. Yet, this is exactly how we treat our instructors. During professional development, each and every faculty member from departments and programs campus-wide are grouped together in one conference room and expected to pay attention and actually gain something from one generic facilitator who has nothing to do with any of our programs, reading powerpoint slides talking about what we (remember there are instructors from departments ranging from medical sonography, to process operating, to diesel mechanics) should be doing in our classrooms for hours on end.
By restructuring the way we teach our teachers, I honestly feel like we can not only change the negative attitudes toward professional development that I mentioned previously, but also enhance the experience as a whole, providing our teachers with a whole new world of opportunities to help our students succeed. Afterall, quality learning experiences for our teachers, ultimately results in quality learning experiences for our students!
If you would like to know more about how I made this video, feel free to visit my Behind the Scenes post!