• Beth Ott

How I Changed my mind About Professional Development

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Time to confess...

I used to HATE professional development. LOATHE IT. I would see the words PD on our calendar, and I couldn’t roll my eyes fast enough.

The topics were irrelevant, it was mandatory even if it wasn’t related to anything I did, and you could just tell that there was little thought or planning that went into it.

So, if I’m saying I ‘used to’ hate it, what changed? For the PD I found most useful, the following all applied:

  1. There was set up and buy in from the very beginning and the thought processes and planning were very intentional. Whether it was small group, department, or whole school (or even whole district), the people in charge were aware and thought this out intentionally.

  2. Teachers had options or a say in their path. This is key if you are a PD planner. Get feedback early on about topics, books, challenges. Options in how to absorb the info, such as a book study, video, collab with others, etc.

  3. I went in with an open mind, and intention. This was a crucial turning point for me personally. There could be PD that I didn’t think was useful, but if I went in with an open mind, and seeking to find relevance, even if it was so I could support my co-workers in their learning, I found that it shifted things. Sometimes my intention was to be present...this helped my attitude and instead of focusing on what I ‘could’ be doing (grading papers, writing IEPs), my intention was to be present and engaged (because thinking about what I COULD be doing actually didn’t help me DO those was just time wasted).

But the biggest change around PD in general?

That happened when I stopped thinking that PD was something that was mandated, compulsory, scripted and forced upon me, and started thinking that ANY learning I chose to do was PD. Reading a book about anti-racism? PD. Wanting to up your Google game by becoming a Google certified Educator? PD. Your yoga studio offering a workshop on mindfulness? PD. Attending an online summit like #totalteachersummit or #teachyourheartout? PD.

You need to find what excites you. And you need to find your people that are geeked out about that just as much as you are. They might be on Twitter, Instagram, in a Facebook group or waiting to be introduced to you at a conference. FIND THEM!

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