Professional Development takes a big bite

August 25, 2008

Reflecting on the three days of paid preparation time we had prior to the students’ arrival, Professional Development enters the contest for Instructional Time. One of those preparation days was devoted to Professional Development sessions, probably a reasonable warm-up for our returning band of teachers sprinkled with a few newcomers. A second afternoon was devoted to the schools’ policies, procedures, and schedules of meetings for teachers: faculty meetings, level meetings (all teachers at a particular level), cross-level team meetings, committee meetings, and professional development meetings. It was announced (by the School Leadership Team or SLT) that Professional Development meetings would be held the second and third Thursday mornings of every month, from 8 – 9:30 AM.

In my letter to the SLT, I thanked them for their hard work and then wrote: I cannot, however, understand the logic behind your scheduling of morning meetings for professional development that will take all teachers out of their classrooms for the first 45 minutes of the day. Frankly I am appalled that you plan to take that first precious time of day on 18 of my schooldays over the next year. Who will be with the students? How can three assistants meet and start four classes? Do you believe that the children will all get nicely to work until we arrive? Already I have two mornings EVERY week when I greet the children and send them right back out of the classroom to specials, a schedule that I understand is necessary but is nevertheless robbery of learning time, in my opinion. To now have an additional two mornings a month when I do not start the day with my students is a huge loss.

I have heard that many schools have an early dismissal in the afternoons occasionally for these kinds of meetings when the whole faculty can be together. To me that is still a loss, but far less than the time we are going to squander as we fight to find “Time to Teach.”

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