More On (Moron?) Staff Development Days

An excerpt from an email I sent to some school district administrators earlier today:

 

Perhaps the best idea I have for tightening the belt around here is to drastically streamline our staff development days. 

 

In a ninth season episode of The Simpsons entitled, “Lost Our Lisa,” the children feel sorry for their teachers, because the kids get to have fun on a day off while the teachers have to be “cooped up at school” on a staff development day.  The scene then cuts to a close-up of the principal mumbling to a bored-looking teacher, “Well, here we go again,” after which the camera pulls back to reveal the staff of the school on a roller coaster at an amusement park.  The joke is on the writers, though: their irony turns out to be quite realistic.

 

From the presentation by a company selling “edutainment” software that we neither need nor could afford, to the breakout sessions with no leader or coherent goal, to the condescending silliness at the start and end of the day, Tuesday’s staff development was a laughingstock failure.  I don’t say this to indict any certain individuals responsible for its planning, but when we face budget shortfalls and a lack of student achievement, it’s almost criminal to continue having these inservice days with the philosophy that they’re for “entertainment” and “team building.” 

 

In the interest of the quality of the education that we provide, I need to suggest that we radically alter staff development days in the district.  Shouldn’t staff development days be devoted to reviewing effective teaching strategies and curricula, and letting departments communicate with each other about immediate concerns specific to their campus and department?  Not to mention, letting teachers have some extra planning time?  What else could a staff development day legitimately be for? 

 

Budget cuts have to be made, and isn’t it reasonable to start with the catered lunches, silly technology-heavy presentations, pointless professional guest speakers, and trophies that cluttered up this most recent staff day? 

 

 

 

4 comments on “More On (Moron?) Staff Development Days

  1. I have to say, while I generally loathe staff development, this last Tuesday was one of the few that I genuinely learned something. They even had it set up reasonably well, where you could choose your breakout session. Personally, I love the idea of a planning day. Of course, with the lazy louts that educators are, that would never fly. You know, if we had a few unstructured hours to kill, we would never do anything useful like lesson planning, or catching up on grading. What educator ever needs that? Unless educators are strictly accountable to someone, we do nothing.

    I would probably drop a couple of posts on your blog, however. Until I got it blocked at my site…

  2. I hasten to add for confused readers that Steve and I attended different meetings, at completely different sites. We’re not talking about the same thing at all. Glad you had a good experience, though, ol’ chum!

  3. Let it also be reemphasized, staff development days are usually futile exercises, and this one positive experience is during my FIFTH year in this particular school district. We have staff development 4 days per year. We’ve had two this year, so I’ve attended, what, 18? If my math is correct, we’re batting at about a %5 clip. That is not a good average!

  4. “Shouldn’t staff development days be devoted to reviewing effective teaching strategies and curricula, and letting departments communicate with each other about immediate concerns specific to their campus and department? Not to mention, letting teachers have some extra planning time?”

    Can I get an amen?!

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