Is there such a thing as too much PD?
This is something that I have been contemplating. The past few years my district has had teachers participate in weekly PD. In the beginning, this was welcome as not only did we want it, we felt that we needed it. However this current year, I am beginning to ask if there really is too much of a good thing.
How much is too much?
Each week I am asked to participate in 90 minutes ‘collaboration’ time. To me, collaboration is organic, exciting, desired, and teacher-driven. However, when teachers are told what to do, what to discuss, and have someone watching/listening it begins to feel less like collaboration and more like a mandatory meeting. And no one likes long meetings. Then there are the 2.5-hour meetings/PD each month, plus 1.5-hours meetings/PD each month, AND 1/2 hour meetings/PD TWICE per month. This makes a grand total of 12.5 hours of meeting/PD per month. No wait, I forgot the 1.5 hours per month of math PD. So that makes 14 hours of meeting/PD per month. And none of it is teacher-driven.
So what’s the result?
Before I sat down to figure all this out, I had no idea I was getting this much each month. Some of this comes at the expense of face-time with students – a grand total of 8 hours during the regular school day. Times that by the 9 months this occurs, that’s 72 HOURS of lost face-time with my students. Wow!
In addition to the lost face-time, I fear that we are beginning to experience overload. I fear that many teachers have begun tuning out some of the good messages and practices that are being shared. I know I have. Many teachers have begun to dread the monthly 2.5-hour meeting/PD. I don’t find the math PD useful. In fact, watching an hour lesson in which the students FINALLY get to talk after 33 minutes is a bit much, even for me (I love math!). And their actual interaction with other students lasts less than 8 min in that hour.
When can I put it into practice?
If I am missing 8 hours with my students – this doesn’t include the 3 hours that my class must attend First Tee each month – when can I put what I’m learning into practice? I’m honestly not sure. I sure hope I get to do so soon.
What to do?
Honestly, I’m not sure. In and of themselves, each item is worthy. Combined, it’s proving to be a deadly combination. I am hoping that my district reevaluates some of this. Honestly, I think the monthly 2.5-hour meeting/PD needs to go. Remember sitting in those 3-hour classes in college and you were done after about an hour. Yeah, these give you that same feeling. I’m also hoping that the district asks the teachers which ones they find most valuable. Sticking with the top 2 will result in better teaching practices.