Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Is Professional Development Still Worth the Investment?

Recently school district administrators are look ways to cut their budgets due to declines in local state funding.  Some administrators are asking whether professional development workshops are worth the investment.  I’ve found professional development workshops to be very valuable for the teachers and staff who have been involved.  The teachers benefit from learning new information and gaining a different teaching perspective. Also, teachers who have been working at a school for a long time can benefit from a fresh perspective.  During some professional development sessions we have talked about how to improve communication with students, academic success strategies and how to manage stress.  It is amazing how many teachers do not take time off of work to re-energize.  

A presentation by someone who is an expert in their field can get the attention of staff who have worked for long time. The presenter may have worked in different kinds of school environments so that he/she is sensitive to your schools challenges in terms of resources to effectively teach your students. Your school does not need to be stuck in the ways that things were done in the past.  A professional development workshop can help the participants to catch on to the new vision that you are implementing in your school district. There are several benefits that professional developments can provide.

1.  A better response to change
2.  Improved communication among teachers and students
3.  The ability to engage in meaningful problem solving
4.  Inspire teachers to pursue additional education
5.  Learn how to handle conflicts so that you create a winning response
6.  Improve communication with the parents
7. Learn how to implement a college going culture
8. How to manage stress

It is important for teachers, principals and superintendents to take care of the whole person which includes their physical, intellectual, emotional and social development.   A good professional development can help the staff to improve their own stress management.  Healthy teachers contribute to a healthy school environment.  Sometimes it only takes a half hour of walking a few days a week to get results. Walking helps educators and other professionals to live a longer life. 

The key to a successful professional development is awareness of he needs of faculty and administration.  A survey may be one way to uncover the needs of the administration, staff and students.  Give the participant ample opportunities to comment and to make suggestions.  You will get greater investment in the professional development when it is based on the participant’s suggestions.  Most teachers want to do a better job and they can benefit the students when they are included in the professional development discussion. If you are looking for a professional development or want to discuss this topic further contact Dr. Stephen Jones at stephenjoness@rcn.com.