Billions wasted on Professional Development: Surprised?

arm wrestling money

A new study of 10.000 teachers by TNTP a non-profit organization shows billions are wasted every year on teacher professional development. Are you surprised? As an educator who has spent 20 years going to PD days and suffering through stale agendas, I am not surprised.

There is no one size fits all training that can occur in any profession, I recently heard from another blogger that they had spent a whole day in a medical workshop that was a total waste of time for her since she already knew the content. You would think schools would be better at training, after all that is their business but the sad fact is they aren’t any good at it. Mostly, it is because they are too busy focusing on everything else to provide useful and valuable professional development. The majority of a school administrators year is spent on the budget, planning it , strategizing about it, getting it passed by the board of education and town itself to worry too much about staff development.

Usually the task falls to teachers themselves, to create, plan and deliver their own development. At a certain point we reach the end of our own expertise and need some outside help. The other problem as the study points out is that districts rarely stick to any one thing long enough to become proficient at it and continue to pile more and more on top of the old initiatives. teachers lose focus and just give up; outlasting any new initiatives.

When the state mandates that districts must provide development, they don’t give a lot of guidance, support or resources to provide it. Districts can develop any way they see fit and often it is on the cheap and not with a long term vision.

What teachers I know really want for professional development is:

  1. Long term support by experts in a particular field to continue to provide information, support and feedback about an initiative. A one day workshop is a waste of money and time.
  2. An administration that understands the job of teaching is hard enough without adding new things to the plate every year; you have to remove some things to get better at others.
  3. Prioritize! What is most important? We only have so much time in the day and year for PD what is most critical?
  4. Common plans and goals that last longer than a year.
  5. Most important: it has to be relevant to the learner! Just like we need to make learning relevant to our students, so should PD for educators or any one else for that matter.

Professional development in education as in many other professions can use a lot of help, what do you notice about the professional development provided for you?


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