Educators know the value of quality professional development. Teachers left to rely on the skills and strategies acquired during a four- or five-year undergraduate program are ill-prepared to help students master key concepts (in math, reading, or any other subject). That is why we subject ourselves to continued learning. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not. However, quality professional development is critical to changing the way we do business.
Other countries get this. Teachers spend significant time in professional development and lesson study activities. This is one factor contributing to the success of the primary Singapore mathematics program. Some districts in the U. S. get this, too. But then we get news like this.
There are two underlying factors in this situation:
- Parents – 100 (or more) of them signed a petition. Their main (although unstated) concern: My kids aren’t in school and so I have to pay for daycare for an extra three hours every Wednesday. This is indicative of our culture. I’m not going to say more about that now.
- Teacher organizations. My favorite quote on this topic from the article: “The kids need to be in school…. If they needed to do the meetings, the teachers should be paid to go to the meetings after school, you know, not take it out of time for the kids.” This is really about pay, not what’s best for kids. It’s an unfortunate pattern that emerges in district after district.
Unfortunately, the winner of Round 1 in Laramie County is classroom time – time that could be more productive if teachers were able to participate in training on a regular basis.