After 12 year of experience in professional development over 4 different districts – some large with over 20 buildings, and others just with a single building, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, after school PD that is optional is a bridge to nowhere. Folks will tell you – “Tuesday’s don’t work…if you have it on Thursdays, then I’ll come.” And someone will tell you the exact opposite. It’s not that folks don’t care or don’t want to improve – life is just plain busy – and if it’s not something required of you per the contract, more often than not, it’s not going to happen.
A friend in another district has a good thing going with face-to-face PD and also with leveraging Atomic Learning. The main difference is that it’s part of the work day. Another had the same experience, all the staff learning took place during the work day. The work has to happen during the contract, or more often then not, it won’t happen. So many other initiatives suck up the PD time, that there isn’t much left these days after that. If we want to move the needle past what Doug Johnson wrote about this week with $3,400 pieces of chalk and $9,000 solutions for spiral notebooks, the work needs to be prioritized.