Friday, April 8, 2011

Professional Development (or When Workshops Attack...)

So, I'm supposed to be preparing myself to attend a workshop this afternoon which basically takes me out of my classroom and away from my students for a substantial portion of the day. In my eyes, it seems a bit counter-intuitive to ask a teacher to leave her class, where she could be engaging her students in learning, to sit in another class to listen to some quasi-expert ramble on about God-knows-what for a few hours. For fact, I know that after ten minutes a significant number of teachers mentally check-out at most workshops. Why? Because most workshops are lame. Sure, many facilitators try to avoid lecturing, and make a half-assed attempt to engage teachers in hands-on activities, but the result is always the same: teachers who would rather be somewhere else.

Part of the problem is, especially in school districts, it usually isn't the teacher who decides what his or her professional development will be. More often than not, departments decide the topic of district-sponsored workshops, and principals decide which out-of-district conference, consortium, or workshop their teachers will attend. So, where does the teacher stand in all of this?
The point of my little rant, I suppose, is that teachers need to empower themselves. Design your own plan for professional learning. The mental energy, time, and money you invest will be well worth it in the end, for you and your students.

:) Jameelah
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