This has often been a quandary for teachers. I’ve seen it firsthand over my many years of teaching. Heck, if I’m honest (which I like to think I am), sometimes I’m even the one who isn’t acting like a professional. I can get pretty goofy at times. A giggle or silly comment and I’ve distracted others from the speaker or the task at hand. Teachers can make the worst audience members; we talk a lot and don’t always listen well. We can be quite critical of others who are trying to teach us something new. We argue that we need time to learn new things so that we can keep up with what is expected of us, but then we sometimes piddle away the time we are given. Whose problem is it? I guess there are several issues here:
1. Teachers do need to make their own learning a priority. Show up on time for PD offered to you by your school. Do your best to pay attention & not distract others. Thank those who took the time to prepare lessons/information for you. Read more about a topic if you feel that you still need to learn more. Try to implement something that you’ve learned.
2. If the PD isn’t especially meaningful or helpful to you, take the time to complete the survey or give feedback when asked. Say it politely, but SAY IT. Districts can’t make improvements if we just sit there stonily when they ask our opinion.
3. Get involved in committees that plan and prepare the PD.
4. Take ownership of some of your own PD. Take classes that challenge you to learn something new. Try a new technology. Read some blogs. Join Twitter and start following some interesting people and read their posts. This is truly the only way you can personalize the PD you get.
I was just involved with a team that was planning one PD session and it did not go well. We had a large cross-section of K-5 educators in the room. The webinar had poor audio quality, some attendees were streaming in up to 30 minutes late, and the presenter was showing very basic things such as how to create a teacher account. I take part of the blame for the fact that the PD was weak. I sat back a little and let others make some decisions that I wasn’t in total agreement with. In hindsight, I think that I should have covered the basics with people prior to the webinar. An e-mail with directions for creating an account could have been sent out ahead of time, with the expectation that this chore be done ahead of time. Then everyone could have been logged in and using the tool right away during our PD time. I also could have conversed more with the presenter ahead of time to make sure that the presentation was tailored more to our needs & was more inspirational and idea-packed. The whole PD session was only 75 minutes, but it was a wasted opportunity. In February we get another chance to work with this same group of educators and we had better make it count. Our PD team has some work to do! Yes, we should expect teachers to show up, be prepared, be a polite audience and participate. In return, we need to make the session worthwhile and motivating. Both groups (attendees and presenters) need to bring professionalism to the room and work together to keep learning & growing.