Those of us who are responsible for providing professional development really need to spend more time listening to the people who are on the receiving end of our work.

Like the ideas in this thoughtful post by an elementary teacher in our overly-large school district (and likely someone who has been “in-serviced” more than a few times :-).

Meaningful professional development happens when teachers leave a training/meeting/Internet session feeling ownership of what they just learned. They are able to take what they learned and feel comfortable immediately applying it in their classrooms OR they know where to go to get more information/resources so that they can then immediately apply it in their classrooms.

Teachers should leave professional development with a fundamental understanding of why something works so that when they take it into their classrooms they can change it/adjust it/improve upon it to make it work with their classroom routines and their learners without changing the theory/philosophy/science behind it.

She also has something to tell principals who are (or should be) responsible for making sure teachers are actually applying what they’ve learned.

Good teachers are student-watchers, and good professional development gives us more skills to understand what we see when we are watching our students. Good administrators recognize that their good teachers are student-watchers and not page-turners. They have to trust that what is happening in the classrooms is the result of well-thought-out lessons even if the classroom does not match a teacher’s manual.

I have nothing to add… other than to remind myself to pay closer attention as well.