Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Professional Development?

Why is every single second so precious to teachers?  Why is it so frustrating to lose a minute's time in the day?  I can think of many answers.

First, most teachers have a running list of about 100 tasks to do--all tasks that take energy, concentration and yes, time.  One hundred tasks that will improve the work they do for the students they teach--tasks that include correcting papers, editing stories, organizing classroom libraries, developing curriculum, reading children's books, researching the best tools and more.

Second, most teachers are on task with students most of the day leaving little time to reflect on the day's work or plan for the next day.  Hence, most of that work gets done in the evenings and/or early morning hours.

Third, most teachers are caring people who make time for family members regularly.  We care for our children, spouses, parents, relatives, friends and neighbors.  We like helping people. That's why we became teachers and we usually have a long to-do list related to that.

Fourth, we see potential. We know that if we tweak that unit this way; rearrange the desks that way;  find a better reading book or use a different video and more, we'll better effect our students' learning and experience of school.

Fifth, we're human and our energy runs out.  If you've been teaching a long time, you know how you learn best.  You understand how to quickly review, analyze and implement material, and you recognize learning events that are profitable and efficient for you versus those that are time consuming resulting in little gain.

And this brings me to the question of professional development?  What are the best ways to learn and grow as a professional educator?  What time is well spent, and what time leads to frustration?  I'm sure there's not one answer to this, but I believe it's an important question to ask because when teachers use their time effectively, students gain and that matters.