Friday, August 07, 2015

Professional Development

Teachers, have you ever had any professional development that was genuinely worth the time or money spent on it?  Me, either:
The 50 largest school districts in America collectively spend $8 billion a year on professional development for teachers. What are they getting out of it? Bupkis.

That’s according to a new study titled The Mirage by the nonprofit TNTP, formerly The New Teacher Project, which interviewed 10,000 teachers and 100 administrators in three large districts and one charter school network over two years. It got the $8 billion figure by extrapolating out from the $18,000 average spent per teacher in the districts it studied.

Here’s what they found:

“most teachers do not appear to improve substantially from year to year”

“no evidence that any particular kind or amount of professional development consistently helps teachers improve”
Not the most scientific extrapolation cost-wise, but the findings comport with my own experiences.


maxutils said...

Props where props are due: Once. It was a day in which various teachers agreed to do mini semionars about stuff they found useful … in short blocks. I think we hcould choose 4. Out of those, I found three to be useful, and one to be not a waste of time. But in general … no, they are worthless.

Anonymous said...

I think the "one size fits all" PD is the problem, just as my education classes in college were a waste of time. However, I complete 50-60 hours each year in subject-specific PD which has helped improve my teaching tremendously. Unfortunately, school districts would rather spend inservice time trying to indoctrinate teachers with the latest social agenda or alphabet soup program.

David said...

If I can take 1 thing or activity out of a PD, it has been a successful one.

I noticed the best PDs are ones run by actual teachers. Ones that stink are ones run people that have been out of the classroom for years.

Best PD I ever went to was in my second year of teaching and helped me improve my classroom management. I was still a new teacher and making basic mistakes. That one taught me to correct some of the little things I was doing wrong.

tothemathlimit said...

I just got back from Twitter Math Camp, which is one of the notable exceptions to the usual PD rule. I highly recommend that math teachers get involved in the #MTBoS (Math Twitter Blogosphere), where they can create their own PD. On the other hand, I also just spent three days of district-required PD that was mildly interesting and useful, but not the best use of my time.

Ellen K said...

Professional development is far too often not developmental nor professional. In my experience it's a combination of pep rally and indoctrination where we are expected to conform to whatever agenda the administration has dreamed up. Last year we read The Energy Bus (a book even Half Price Books won't buy....) and took a bus to travel the boundaries of our attendance zones. It was hot-103-and crowded and the A/C broke down in two of the buses. Super. There's also an inordinate amount of time dwelling on school policies like tardies, dress code and fee payment-none of which are consistently enforced. Even when our district paid for us to go to the museum (and by paid I mean furnished us with buses) the person conducting the tour was poorly informed and lost all our paperwork. In one PD I was to attend this summer, I arrived at the school to find it a construction zone. They had changed locations without telling anyone. The last really good PD session I had was many years ago when we actually went to an artist's studio and learned how to do a raku firing. That was 8 years ago. I went to APSI for Art History which was great, but the insistence on so many hours of PD-especially after you have taught for more than a few years-is repetitive and doesn't honor the time of the participant.

Pseudotsuga said...

Professional Development is for administrators to "prove" that they are actually doing something, and thus a way for them to justify their jobs.
It's not about the teachers...

maxutils said...

Yet, our unions negotiate the days. I'd much rather have them be school days. As for 'getting better'? A good teacher hits his or her stride about year 2 or three, and -- yeah -- probably won't change much. But also won't need to. So professional development really needs to address something new that a teacher might choose to add … most don't come close to that.