Why do you think it is important to continue Professional Development throughout your career?

Have you ever worked for a company that didn’t offer professional development?  I’ve worked for multiple school districts and for private businesses throughout my career.  The one thing they all had in common were professional development.  All employers provide professional development but the quality and  effectiveness was always in question.  How do you ensure what is being offered is impactful and timely?

I’ve often heard that professional development is the necessary evil.  We all need it but nobody likes it.  I’ll have to say that in my twenty plus  years of providing and receiving professional development nailing down the most effective model is hard to find especially since our audience ranges in age and experience.  We as leaders tend to fall back on what we know, what has worked in the past, shared ideas from colleagues and personal experiences that you found effective.  

As educators, we strive to meet the learning needs of a diverse student body whose needs and learning styles range widely.  But too often our professional learning is set aside to happen in our pre-arranged professional development days.  Large groups, sitting for hours going through a checklist of requirements (licensure, human resources, curriculum, standards, assessments etc…),  so let’s take this unplanned disruption to repurpose/redesign professional development.  Do we all need to sit in our school to be held accountable for receiving professional development?  Do days need to be set aside for all staff PD or can a new flexible model be implemented?

We ask teachers to change their instruction to meet the needs of their students on a daily basis.  Now we need to flip our leadership to meet the needs of our teachers.  Covid-19 changed our instructional practices  overnight.  So now how do leaders model adult learning through our new lens?  We’ve asked our students, teachers and parents to embrace distance learning but how can adult learning be a flexible model.   If you are like me, there are very few days set aside for professional learning and these days are highly sought after with required district requirements, curriculum, assessments, testing, team building and equity.  How can all of these topics be given the personalization and time needed to fully engage in the learning, provide time to try and reflect. Schools during the upcoming school year will have even more demands on district days with Covid-19.  Now may be the time to flip your PD.  

Can a blended or virtual model be offered next year?  How does this look and can it be meaningful to each and every one of us?  Leaders let’s get ready to flip and provide teachers flexible professional development.  Ask yourself….Does all learning need to be done between 7:30-3:30 in your school/district?  

Who is going to seize this unplanned opportunity to change our professional development model?  How can you and your staff use the next two months to plan, develop and think-outside the box and model how district leaders are embracing virtual learning as they did with students in the spring.   

Take time right now to be innovative, bold and flip the professional development model.  You CAN do it!