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Professional Development Is a Waste for Teachers

Before July 4th I went to the public library in the neighborhood and picked a book by Christopher Witt: Real Leaders Don't Do PowerPoint I always thought a teacher has to be a good speaker and needs to know how to sell his/her image and ideas. I am not going to comment on the book but I am trying to connect the role of leaders explained in this book with two post in Why Do You Ask a blog written by Ric Murry

Murry wrote a interesting post (sadly without any comments yet)on why he knows teachers aren't any good today. No even after NECC09. Ric Murry says that, "Schools have become breeding grounds for experiments for businesses, vendors, college professors, or publishers to make quick turnkey money by convincing teachers that they are not capable of doing their job without constantly changing how they do their job."

In other words, all the time a teacher spends attending Professional Development(PD) doesn't go beyond a "systemic indoctrination". Classroom teachers -there are teachers doing business independently- no longer believe they are able to lead without someone telling them what to do. The energy teachers have when they start working vanish, after a period of time we all become followers rather than leaders.

Of course, this image, aura and conduct is quickly perceived by students, who "feel the energy we project, they will seek to become the class 'leader' because the one thing they have learned for sure is that their teachers will not know how to lead them.", continues Murry.

Christopher Witt writes in his book that leaders (teachers to this matter) have to match their message to their reputation but most importantly, they have to imitate no one! Teachers are to be unique and use their natural enthusiasm and knowledge to shine through. Be a highly effective teacher!

Until we continue being the 'social animal' of which Cesar Millan speaks, being referenced by Ric Murry in his post, teachers will be waiting for someone else to tell them what to do, how to do it, when to do it. Classroom teachers can do better, no matter if they still have to go to the PDs; otherwise "districts that provide system-wide, school-wide, department-wide PD [will] waste the time of teachers, the money of the tax-payers, and deteriorate the internal motivation of their best teachers."

What wish you can do to be a better teacher and stop being a follower only?

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  1. I agree, most professional development is a waste, teachers come away from training so demoralized that they have no energy to project the "assertive but calm", (you were the one that brought Cesar into this), discipline in the class.

    In fact, most PD does nothing but build fear in the teacher, fear destroys quality.

    My principal wants me to do a PD for the teachers this year, (I teach students tech and build the school's website/moodle environment). There are three things I want to do. 1. Build confidence. 2. Give teachers something they can do. 3. Take the least amount of time doing 1 & 2.

  2. I am also in agreement, the PD teachers are exposed to has little to no practical application for their peers or students. They feel talked down to and provided with information that is outdated or a repeat of past PD workshops. Teachers should be able to select by consesus what types of PD they should engage, and be held accountable for. The ultimate goal of PD aside from personal growth is to further our students knowledge or skills.

    I am involved with a university organization that imparts appicable and teacher friendly face-to-face and online PD. We allow teachers to belive in technology, utlize it for self and students' growth. Web 2.0 tools are utlized. Members of of this PD organization view themselves as leaders and impart this concept with all whom they touch.

  3. Most teachers I know need time to collaborate and learn from each other. Professional development rarely provides the time for teachers to simply talk and share. Isn't it odd that because everyone went to school, they think they know how to make schools better? Yet, most people have been to a doctor's office and don't presume to tell the dr. how to do her/his work!

  4. Milton,

    Thanks for using my thoughts as a springboard for conversation. I think I speak to the wind most of the time, but to know someone is reading, reflecting, and continuing the conversation is encouraging.

    All the best.