On September 19, public educators throughout Duval County gathered to discuss the impact of professional development on their ability to be effective teachers. They began the conversation by sharing aspects of the existing forms of professional development that are working well for them and their peers. They appreciated opportunities that exposed them to best practices and provided them with the tools they needed to grow, not just in their specific field, but in others as well. One example of these opportunities was WJCT’s TEACH Conference on September 12. Our teachers had an opportunity to meet educators from around the country and learn what was working for them in their respective classrooms.
Roundtable participants also engaged in discussion around improving professional development programming. One main concern they shared was that there is not enough time for educators to hone in on their craft and take ownership of what they're doing in the classroom. In order for them to truly develop, they should be attending training sessions that are customized to specific teachers’ needs. Teachers generally have varying levels of experience. For this reason, every teacher should not be required to attend the same types of professional development sessions. If a teacher has been in the field for a certain period of time, there are sessions that may not be as helpful for them to attend as they may be for a newer educator. Thus, they concluded that closer consideration could be taken when mandating certain types of professional development training.
Another major challenge that educators with varying levels of experience expressed was the need for more time to adjust to changes being implemented within schools. If teachers could have more time to adjust to these changes, they may be less resistant to implementing these classroom changes. They placed a lot of emphasis on collaboration among educators to learn from each other during these times of transition. This was connected to the idea of teacher-to-teacher mentoring to give newer teachers an opportunity to learn from more experienced teachers. Some people learn best through mentoring and learning from others’ experiences in the field.
At the end of the day, there are still questions that the educators plan to answer and develop action items for at the next Teacher Roundtable, Part B on October 10.
How can tools used for professional development be meaningful for our city’s educators?
How can training be customized to meet the individual needs of our educators while taking into consideration their different levels of experience?
And most importantly, how can we make the greatest impact on the lives of our students?