How do we spend the days set for professional development wisely?
It is no doubt an area for disagreement. At least in Norway. We have 5 or 6 days each year we can use for professional development, or as they call it in Norway, planning day. The name, that is what we call these days is significant as I see it. If you focus on the planning, teachers want to use these days planning their teaching, alone or together with colleagues. If you stress the professional development you might have an agreement that you are working on improving your profession, but there too are grounds for disagreement. Between learning more about the subject you are teaching, vs learning more about pedagogy, what works in the classroom, the use of technology and how to help each and every student reach their potential. I recently read the article here called 5 Ideas for improving professional learning experiences. It is a much better name for it, and it should include most areas. Wish there was a good Norwegian word for that.
Either way, I agree with George Couros in this post where he stresses that having your staff lead sessions not only taps into the strength of your organization but debunks the “you can’t be a prophet in your own land” myth. Other good points he has here is to include students and parents, allow time between sessions for discussions and reflections and to set aside time for health and well- being. My school is rather good at latter, with floorball, aerobics, climbing, running and even taking time to go for a walk.
Whichever way you decide to go as a school leader, you are not going to get any results if the staff is reluctant and attend with an “I’d rather not be here” attitude. That said, most times I agree with George in this; I have been so caught up in the passion of so many teachers that are excitedly taking part in their professional learning. Still, we should always explore ways to make it even more interesting and rewarding to participate both teachers, school leaders and students.