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Teacher poll: professional development

August 25, 2013
Jane Ching Fung

In the most recent InterACT blog post, Jane Ching Fung described a highly successful and effective professional development experience from earlier this summer. That post inspired the poll question below (for teachers only, please). After you respond to the poll, you can see the results, and I hope you’ll add some comments below as well.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    August 25, 2013 11:55 am

    The upper echelon talks about having more focused PD but they still offer disjointed “drive by” sessions. The district level departments seem not talk to each other and they all do separate things that do not interconnect. There is no follow up at all. Conflicting messeages are sent and teachers just give up trying to make the different initiative fit together for students.

    • David B. Cohen permalink*
      August 25, 2013 12:03 pm

      “Drive by” is a description I hear often, along with “sit ‘n’ git” and “spray and pray” – as in, spray some buzzwords and handouts around and pray that some of it sticks.

  2. August 25, 2013 12:05 pm

    I have been teaching for 10 years now. In that time, I have had 9 different principals (at 3 different schools, with some bad timing).

    My experience has been that the quality of professional development depends on a number of factors. Those factors are not unlike the factors that dictate student success in the classroom: the recipients need to be motivated to improve, the curriculum must be relevant, and it must be delivered in a fashion that both makes it accessible while setting high standards.

    My experience has been that a decently large minority of principals actually know what this looks like. It isn’t completely hopeless.

    However, when it comes to PD that is developed by the district (even, or especially with paid outside help) it gets worse. Last year when we had a PD on teaching standards, the PD violated 90% of the standards that where being talked about as being good teaching.

    • Lisa Alva Wood permalink
      August 26, 2013 9:28 pm

      It is a terrible thing, to educate and babysit a consultant.

  3. August 25, 2013 1:11 pm

    This year, the PD offered by our district on our optional buy-back days was very good. It’s probably one of the best I’ve attended and I even told the Superintendent that it’s the type of training I wish I had received when I first started teaching in Vallejo. It was presented by Dr. Duncan-Andrade and had a lot to do with effectively engaging our students in an urban environment. it was relevant to many of us because a.) he is from Oakland, and b.) he is still a regular classroom teacher. In other words, he practices what he preaches. Dr. Andrade did mention coming back to our district for follow-up training, but it’s still unclear whether this follow up training will be for all who are interested in attending (which is what I’m hoping for) or if it will only be open for new and/or struggling teachers.

  4. Jane Fung permalink
    August 25, 2013 6:28 pm

    My district offers some good PD, and although the information is useful and relevant most of the time, what I find is the inconsistency in the presenters/facilitators. Teachers can attend the same “Professional Development topic” and have very different experiences. A friend and I once went to the same PD (by name and course #) on Common Core and History/Science and she did not get anything out of it and was disappointed, where I was able to gain much more from my session. It was in different geographic areas (our district is large and divided into 4 areas) and we had different presenters.

    Sometimes it has more to do with the deliver of the information, than it does with what is being presented. I also find a lacking of opportunity to continue networking and collaboration after the PD. You attend a one day workshop and that’s it. We use to have networks awhile back where teachers can continue to meet with others (across the district) in topic alike groups. It provided time for us to go back to the classroom, try out what we learned, reflect, share, and modify/revise with the support and feedback from others. Not done in isolation, but a more collective way.

  5. Marisa Rivas permalink
    August 25, 2013 6:45 pm

    I’m fortunate that the district where I work has a cohesive vision and direction for all PD. We are led by a very competent Assnt. Supt. of Ed. Services who carries out the district-wide focus of putting kids first.

  6. Lisa Alva Wood permalink
    August 26, 2013 9:26 pm

    “Why don’t students get to say what kinds of professional development teachers should have?” The question made total sense. A former student who was in my homeroom/advisory three years ago, and is now an accomplished photojournalist, asked it.
    As this year’s accreditation coordinator (among other things), I have the latitude and principal confidence (imagine!) to gather “data” as I see fit, and this will certainly be an area of research. We say we know better than the district. Do we know better than our kids? The question begs comparison: teacher preference for PD v. student preference for PD. Stay tuned!

  7. August 27, 2013 3:17 pm

    Hi Jane-

    Your article is spot on regarding essential elements of PD.

    We would love to be your test event to compare and contrast your NGSS experience. Please join us at integratED San Francisco October 4-5, 2013 at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep. Take a look

    Darren Hudgins

    • David B. Cohen permalink*
      August 27, 2013 11:00 pm

      I’d be thrilled if Jane came up from L.A., but I’m guessing she won’t. However, I’ll be there and hope to meet you.

  8. David B. Cohen permalink*
    August 28, 2013 10:26 am

    I’m copying and pasting this copy that was left within the poll (which has its own comments section separate from the blog):

    “Science department is currently doing lesson study under a grant. We’re actually bringing the English teachers in as well to try to collaborate around the common core. I think it has great potential for success. I really enjoyed last year’s lesson study with just science teachers. Other PD is really inconsistent. For example, all PE teachers had to take water safety last week even if they work at a site with no pool because they had no other place to tell them to go.”

    — Lynne Formigli

  9. Jane Fung permalink
    August 28, 2013 10:30 pm

    Would love to check out your NGSS conference Darren, but teaching and parenthood won’t allow that to happen. It sounds great though and I would love to hear how it went and what teachers thought!

  10. David B. Cohen permalink*
    September 18, 2013 11:23 pm

    Copying and pasting another comment from within the poll:
    Lisa Alva –
    At Roosevelt, our small school had no fewer than 12 external initiatives and directives pushed down onto the classroom teachers over the last school year. This meant that we had to set aside our collaborative work to learn how to give tests, review our new (and old) district policies, etc. etc. A real professional development PLAN is unified according to a school’s Single Plan for Academic Achievement, or some other student-centered goal. When we are dealing with such tiny budgets, and student need is so great, who does the planning, delivery and followup? Who shelters us, so that our precious time is spent looking at and discussing student work? I’d encourage every teacher and every administrator to consider saying NO to using banked, PD or other staff time for compliance. It’s so much nicer for everyone when “trainings” are set up so that they do not intrude on face to face teacher time.

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