What I Live, What I Love, What I Learn

Missing Key to PD?

I’ve become very disillusioned with many opportunities for professional development (PD) and professional learning.
Let me rephrase that – I’ve become very disillusioned with some people’s views of professional development and how it should be delivered. The expectation of attending a PD session just to be a passive sponge is no longer relevant to many of us for professional learning. Just as this is no longer accepted as effective or engaging classroom teaching and learning strategy.
I’ve been involved in two external professional learning activities in the past week – one mandatory, one voluntary.
On both occasions, I have been quite impressed with many of the resources, links and ideas that have been presented. I can see how elements of these can be used in other PD opportunities within my school and plan to do just this. However, at the conclusion of both these sessions, the delivery of content had been the weakest and most disappointing element.
On both occasions, I have left the sessions with the feeling that very little learning had taken place and the sessions had been extremely limited in their opportunities for REAL engagement.
I am not against traditional or compulsory PD sessions. I don’t go to sessions expecting to be entertained. But I do go expecting to learn. Which is why I do like to read blogs about teaching and I do like to engage with online Personal Learning Networks such as Twitter. I am simply frustrated with some things which are too frequently observed in PD and simply result in participant despair include:
  • reading off slides
  • poorly organised sessions
  • online learning opportunities that are ironically shrouded in reams of paper handouts
  • reading off slides
  • being lectured too
  • limited feedback options or only closed survey questions at the conclusion of the event
  • reading off slides
Bottom line,  it’s ironic that we spend a lot of PD time discussing and exploring how to engage our students to maximise their learning and interest in their work yet this is often not reflected when we are the ones being taught. And from a cost perspective, hard to see bang for buck at times.
I want PD to be presented by people who have considered their audience. I want to come away from PD opportunities excited by what I’ve just spent a couple of hours or a day discussing and learning and pumped to share that with others and bubbling to put it into practice. I want PD that presented as flexible & online to be just that!
As teachers, we spend so much time thinking about our audience – our students. We spend ages planning how we can best meet their learning needs. We spend hours planning how we can maximise the uptake of the content and how our students can then apply this knowledge in new contexts.
How about these ides drive PD delivery to teachers too? Or is this the elephant in the room?
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Comments on: "Missing Key to PD?" (14)

  1. Hey Clarinda,
    I’m facing the same issue from another perspective. As a teacher of a class where I’m trying to change things in the delivery of my course from a “lecture” arrangement to a more student centered self regulated questioning approach. While a majority of the students seem to be coping quite well, I have an element of kids that want, to put it bluntly, spoonfed. I’m not prepared to do that, and it’s causing angst on both sides. If teachers keep being spoonfed, and kids expect to be dealt with in the same way, then its no wonder that what you experienced exists and continues to flourish. Being a risk taker can be scary – but I think we need to show staff and students that there is another way to learn. A more interesting, genuine and authentic way.

    • Hi Jonesy,

      It’s definitely still a common held belief on both sides. Maybe the product of years of learning via the spoon? And the cycle perpetuates.

      It’s a difficult situation to be in from both perspectives. I completely empathise with your classroom predicament. Hopefully change can occur through enthusiasm from others and the dripping tap.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Ditto.

    I have been known to read my twitter stream at these PD activities! :)

    • Ha! Ditto.

      Better than reading off slides…

      Awesome perspective BTW Clarinda! So true of so many PD activities, staff meetings, classes… And I like the new blog theme… did you actually change it or is it just because I’m on a different computer I wonder.

      • I think change to staff meetings and classes can only happen if people take risks and just try something new? If it doesn’t work, change it again. I think often we are very understanding and willing to support someone trying something than same old for same old’s sake.

        Blog theme is the same but was actually contemplating changing it. Nothing taking my fancy so far though.

        Thank you for the comment :-)

    • A sign of disengagement perhaps?

      Thanks for your comment Phillip :-)

      • Totally…more interesting things happening else where..on twitter.

        I’ve had very similar thoughts about staff Pd, too much teacher centred delivery. Need to take more risks…maybe an unconference.

  3. every word a gem Clarinda. So very frustrating. And Jonesy, I fell your pain as Im having the same issues ESPECIALLY in the senior years where other staff dont use laptops at all

    • Hi Sue,

      It is a painful experience at times. Hopefully, we can change this with our students and staff. Gradual, slow change is better than nothing but it has to happen!

      Thank you for your comment :-)

  4. Excellent post. Too many occupy space and take our oxygen with nothing in return. But those that do are absolute rockets. So should we stop for the few or push ahead and gather momentum.

    Stephen brewer

    • Push ahead! Lead by example and keep the momentum going!

      I can think of so many wonderful teachers who present so well and have so much to offer. It is disappointing experiences that lead people to regard PD negatively and relegate its importance.

      Thank you for your comment :-)

  5. Great post Clarinda. In my situation there is a lot of money being thrown at PL under National Partnerships. I also wonder are we getting bang for buck or are we just spending money on whatever because the money is there and needs to be spent.

    • Great point Darryn.

      Definitely worth considering. Quality PL is not always costly PL. Look at the value of Twitter and Teachmeets!

      Thank you for your comment :-)

  6. Hi Clarinda, I totally agree with the quality of PD. Coming from a teaching background and now delivering PD I understand the torture of ‘lecture style, reading off slides’ etc… .
    As a teacher we know that one off sessions do little to retain the information, (this fact has been reinforced in numerous educational research articles). Yet when it comes to adult education we forget this fact and think that a one day session of sitting and absorbing information we will automatically be skilled and knowledgeable in that content. How wrong this theory is…
    I am sure you have come across this YouTube clip, but it really does point out what we are still doing wrong in the educational setting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U
    I hope if you ever have the opportunity to attend one of my PD workshops I can instill some hope that there is still bang for your buck out there because I understand your frustration and I attempt to make the participants engage in learning rather than be a sponge.

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