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Professional Development – When Is It Worth Your Time?
posted by: Ruthie | January 16, 2014, 04:48 PM   

Teachers are faced with a plethora of choices for their professional development.  Organizations of all size and type offer opportunities to teachers.  If teachers had an infinite amount of time and money, they’d be able to attend everything, but unfortunately both time and money are limited resources.  So, how should a teacher decide which opportunity they should try?

A good place to start is
Learning Forward’s guidelines for quality professional development.  While Learning Forward believes in continuous and collaborative professional development that is embedded into the school day, their standards can also be useful when looking at outside professional development opportunities.  For example, from reading Learning Forward’s standards, educators should look for opportunities that:
  1. Develop them as a leader
  2. Are based on solid data and evidence
  3. Promote active engagement on the part of the educator attending the professional development
  4. Have an actual impact on the learning that takes place in the classroom
  5. Are aligned to the curriculum, standards, and goals of the educator’s school

Along with these general considerations, teachers should consider what they personally need.  Not all teachers are in the same place in their career.  One teacher may be very strong in content area knowledge, but struggle with discipline or student relationships.  Teachers should focus their professional development on the area they improvement in order to see the greatest result.

They should also consider the source of opportunity.  Teachers can learn a great deal from each other and should strive for greater collaboration wherever possible.  There are also many associations, non-profit organizations, museums, and other educational institutions that offer high quality professional development.  Unfortunately, there are other organizations that offer professional development that contains dubious content. Not all opportunities are valuable.

The Association of American Educators maintains a
calendar of professional opportunities.  We know that not every teacher will benefit from every opportunity, but we are confident in the quality of the opportunities that we promote, and believe that the calendar is worth checking out.   Also, keep a look out in your inbox for both PD Matters and Education Matters where we’ll often notify teachers of upcoming opportunities.


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