Primary Chalkboard: Getting the Most Out of Professional Development

Getting the Most Out of Professional Development

You hear it announced at the beginning of the school day and you dread it ALL. DAY. LONG! Or, you are happily enjoying your summer break and you get an email or text that makes your heart drop... PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SESSION- attendance "optional", but not really, if you know what I mean.

Yup, we have all been there before. I will admit that in my 15 years of being in the world of education, I have sat through some pretty crumby professional development sessions/classes where I felt I knew more about the topic being presented than the presenter. I was grouchy and didn't want to listen or hear what was being discussed!

On the flip-side of that, I too, have sat through many AMAZING sessions of professional development where I left inspired, invigorated, and ready to get the proverbial party started!

I have spent the past couple of weeks reflecting on this topic. I am now an administrator who will be giving these professional development opportunities to my staff. What made some sessions so amazing, and others so lame?

I realized it was ME! It dawned on me that I played a HUGE role in the value I got out of those professional development sessions. I also realized that there were some key components to getting the most out of each and every session- regardless of the topic, the presenter, or the time of day!

So, read on, dear PD'er! I am excited to share a few of these tips with you!

1) Have A Positive Attitude
No I am not just saying this because I am a new principal. I have been a negative Ned most of my life. I tend to be very pessimistic about many things.  However, I found that when I had a positive attitude, even if I had to "pretend" I was glad about the PD session, that I was more attentive and willing to listen to what was being shared. I tried to smile more in the session and remind myself that something in this presentation WILL make me a better teacher!

Also, be sure to avoid or shut down negative talk about professional development. A simple, "Really? I am looking forward to our meeting today!" is usually enough to get the negative Nellys and Neds to zip it!

2) Get AND Use A PD Notebook/Journal
I learned the value of this from my second principal- Jane Friel. She was a ROCK STAR at modeling for us as teachers things to do and try in our classrooms during PD sessions and Faculty meetings. Each year we would get a new composition notebook that had our name, grade, and year on it. Sometimes were "required" to take notes or reflect on the the learning of the meeting, but mostly it was a place to write down key ideas and take-away points from articles/presentations that were part of the on-going PD at that school. I still have all THREE of the ones I received while working in her school. Even better, I still flip through them from time to time and find the learning still relevant to me today!

I found that when I listened with the foreknowledge of wanting to write down the key ideas, I was able to focus and truly listen. It made a HUGE difference in my learning and understanding.

3) Have A Discussion ASAP!
I have found that when I sit down, whether it is later that day or the next, with a colleague that also attended (or even one that didn't) and discuss key points, that I am able to better retain the information, get new insights from the person I am sharing with, and have a more positive experience overall. In fact, knowing that I will be sharing with someone else, makes me take better notes and ponder about ideas.

However, note that sitting next to your besties and talking off-topic the whole time will NOT be a helpful activity. Side-conversation is distracting to others around you and a real downer for the person presenting. To top it all off, it makes you look unprofessional as well- something we ALL want to avoid!

If no one wants to listen to you when it is all said and done, then write a Facebook post, blog post, share your ideas on Instagram, or even do a quick Periscope video- someone out there will listen and respond! I know I would!

So, I want to make it clear that I understand that some professional development will just suck eggs. That's all there is to it! Sometimes the required topics are annoying- or "just another thing" we have to do. But, if we refer to Tip #1, we will find that regardless of the topic- something useful, positive, and constructive can truly come from ANY training, in-service, or session you are required to attend.

And, if the offering is optional- make it a point to go. Knowing you are there because you CAN be and not because you HAVE to be, will also make a huge difference in your attitude and learning.

Now that I have shared my TOP 3 TIPS for GETTING THE MOST OUT OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT with you- it's YOUR turn! I would love to hear what tips you have to offer about how to get the most out of professional development! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below! I can't wait to hear from you! SCORE!

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful WEEK! WAHOO!

John, Created by MrHughes

Join me on my journey with one or all of these sites:

Pinterest     Facebook     Blog     Twitter     Instagram    
Periscope (@createdbymrhughes)

Don't miss the other AWESOME posts from this month. 
Click on the picture to learn and read more! WAHOO!


  1. This is excellent and so helpful! There is always something good if we look for it.
    I sure do wish I had an administrator as honest and down to earth as you are!

  2. Such an insightful post! Thank you!

  3. This is such a great post! Thank you for sharing these awesome tips and reminder with us all!

  4. When I did professional development I liked to have a 2 minute ice breaker for teachers to avoidoff topic conversations and I brought FOOD. Delivery is everything and it is fun to spiral back to previous learning with a game of some sort. I loved your tips and I think collaborating with your peers is what drives us to be better teachers. Thanks for reminding me to "behave!"