Problem-Free PD, According to Teachers

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Love it or hate it—professional development is a routine part of many K-12 teachers’ careers.

The perception, value, and overall feeling about these meetings varies from person to person. Many teachers loathe the sessions; the EdWeek Research Center found, as part of our State of Teaching Project, that 48 percent of the declared PD they received was “irrelevant.”

EdWeek recently wrote about how one principal set out to change how PD sessions were run in his school. In response to that article, a number of teachers took to social media to say exactly what they liked, disliked, and were pleasantly surprised by when it came to their PD experiences.

The following is a collection of the most popular themes that sprung up from those conversations.

Peer-to-peer development can be invaluable

“[The] best PDs I’ve had [were] from teaching staff sharing their knowledge and strategies. These PDs come from people who are in the classroom and experience the same issues firsthand.”

Stacy S.

“I learned more sitting on a barstool talking shop with my colleagues than I ever learned from a snappily dressed PD presentation by someone who got out of the classroom the second they possibly could.”

Rick T.

“Given the time, teachers will seek out other teachers to create professional development in their own buildings.”

Janet M.

“My HS principal, for PD one year, took the whole staff to a bowling alley. One of the few times in 15 years where I got to talk to colleagues.”

Christopher H.

“Normalize staff-led PD! There are many experts [about teaching] on each campus. [It] saves money too!”

Kallie M.

Teachers identify many problems with their PD

“I really want states to figure out how to accept previously earned PD credit when teachers move from out of state. There’s no reason why one state’s perfectly acceptable criteria for PD shouldn’t also be recognized as acceptable by another state.”

Caitlyn B.

“ … I need [collegial] conversation with people who know different things than I do. PD serves that for me. The trouble with PD is it conflicts with all we need to do. That’s it for me. I enjoy the learning, but there’s always so much to do.”

Michelle T.

“I wish admin. knew that every year doesn’t have to be a first year. We can build prior knowledge like we’re trying to do in the classroom.”

Marcus K.

“PD was always teacher-driven unless it was a whole school change (rare), until about 10 years ago … it needs to go back to how it was … professionals choosing what was relevant to us!”

Libby M.

Some successful PD ideas, from teachers

“Here are some of the best PDs in my 35 years as a teacher.

  1. A bus trip through the school boundaries to see where kids lived which could be followed up with a view of where your individual students reside using [a] feature on Gradebook.

  2. Pick your own PD. My group went to the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.”

    Mary A.

“[One professional development idea I’ve experienced] was done on Valentine’s Day. We got a heart with [a] teacher’s name on it that we pulled from a bucket, we [then] got to observe that teacher and [collaborate] on ideas based on what we saw. I enjoyed [the] other classes, and I enjoyed collaborating with my peers.”

Keely D.

“Post-covid my principal let us do [a] ‘choose your own adventure’ PD. We selected trainings and activities we found to be relevant and helpful to us and reported back on what we learned. Kind of a flipped classroom model of PD.”

Carla Z.


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