1 Professional Development Secret to Unleashing the Power of Your Teachers

Last time we discussed some common mistakes made when planning for professional development for your teachers, including you doing all the work, your teachers not seeing the need for the learning, not being collaborative, and expecting your teachers to be able to change right away.

Now let's build on this and talk about one simple secret you can employ to unleash the power of your teachers.

Oftentimes our school leaders are passionate educators who read constantly.  These leaders are active on various social media platforms, subscribe to the latest publications, and are voracious readers.  They continue to think of new ideas, new strategies, and new actions they can take to make the lives of their teachers and students better.

However, with great knowledge comes great responsibility.

It is far too common for those planning professional development to be awed by all the shiny new ideas and strategies they are reading about.  I'm guilty of it myself. I would read a book and come up with a list of takeaways that my school 'needed' to do. In my own mind there was always some amount of justification too, such as:

  • Our scores in X are lower than they could be, so let's read about this new curriculum option or methodology.

  • Student behavior is a struggle, and I'm sure there is a book out there that will help my staff and me.

  • Technology needs to be implemented so that our students will be ready for the 21st century...

To be honest, I'm still guilty of this.  I'm still an avid reader and find people doing new and interesting things.  I think about my own situation and know certain things can be better, so I start seeking out new ideas and methodologies.  If only we had a better strategy for...

The problem comes when those who present professional development don't stick to the plan originally created.  While you may be an avid reader, learner, and doer, be sure that your new and awesome ideas fit into your current plan and don't deviate you from your course of action.  If they do fit, great. You've just found a new resource and opportunity to learn!

If your new and awesome ideas don't fit into your current plan, it's time to either rethink your plan or put your ideas in a parking lot for later use.  There is nothing wrong with letting these ideas ruminate in your mind for a while; this is a marathon, not a sprint.  Chances are if your new idea is as great as you think it is right now, you will find a home for it in a subsequent plan.  Or you may find something else the next day, week, or month that is EVEN better than your current new idea. Hence the need to let it sit for a while in your mind before taking action.

From the lens of a teacher, there are few things as frustrating as hearing about the 27 disparate ideas that those providing professional development have.  Soon the mindset of your teachers becomes one of "we just have to wait this out until he has his next big idea..."  This causes inaction and indifference to learning.

If you continuously learn yet plan your new ideas accordingly, your teachers will love you for the consistency, thoughtfulness, and dedication to sticking with your current plan.  

Give yourself permission to so "no" to your own best-ever ideas.

As Margaret Thatcher said, "Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan"