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Personalized Professional Development: Out with the Old in with the New!

shutterstock_388634290 (1) My school year has ended and I look forward to the summertime not only because school has ended but because I am able to reflect on the past school year and create goals to improve my instruction for the next school year. I thought that this was the norm for most teachers but when I became a Master Teacher I realized that many teachers are turned off when they hear the word professional development.

For example, I am teaching summer school at a middle school and the assistant principal came in to tell the teachers about how the district was extending the Literacy by 3 program to the middle school. As I sat there listening to his pitch to get the teachers to attend the training, I could tell by how he emphasized that the participants would receive a $100 stipend each day for attending that he already knew that the teachers were not going to go to the training.

When the meeting was over I laughed because  it’s comical that there are so many school districts who still use traditional means to get teachers to attend professional development. It’s such a shame that school districts tell teachers all the time about differentiating instruction for students. I hear administrators saying, ” Meet the students where they are at academically.” Here’s a thought, how about meet your teachers where they are at!

I have given up on relying on my school and or school district to fulfill my professional development needs. I have found that there are so many other ways to truly fulfill my professional development needs.

  1. Twitter Chats– there are a plethora of educational Twitter chats that teachers can participate in and learn from other educators from other states and countries. During the week I participate in the #UrbanEdChat, #TXEduChat, #TABSEChat, and last but not least #SatChat. These chats are worth giving up 1 hour of my time because they defintely add value.
  2. Book Clubs– book clubs are always a great professional development activity. Like with literature circles in the English Language Arts classroom book clubs give me the opportunity to discuss urban education books like For White Folks that Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too. Book clubs are a phenomenal way to engage in authentic coversations about a particular topic. This Summer I’m participating in a book club that is being organized by one of the the writers from The Educator’s Room
  3. Youtube Videos– there are many educators, school districts, and colleges who create Youtube channels to share powerful educational content with the world. I use Youtube to keep up with Jo Boaler’s Youcubed  Stanford University. She has some great ideas for using cooperative groups to teach math. For comic relief I subscribe to Principal Gerry’s channel. He’s hilarious and provides a much needed laugh about the life of an educator when I’m at my wits end. To help my fellow educators I created a channel for  IgnitED so that I can share effective instructional strategies that I use in my classroom that work with struggling learners.

Trust me when I say that I know that you are tired of sitting through professional development that is intended for the 20 first year teachers that are new to your building. If you are one of those bored to tears experienced teachers who need more personalized professional development, I highly suggest that you try one of the methods mentioned above to personalized your PD today!


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