Let’s play a quick game of word association: What comes to mind when you see the term “professional development?” Motes of chalkdust hanging in the air? The clock? Narcolepsy?
By themselves, the words generally portend good things. Who could argue with professionalism? And “development” only tends to mean something bad if it involves a new crop of McMansions springing up in your back yard.
Put the two words together, though, and you can practically smell the bad coffee and fly-buzzed doughnuts.
But as this issue of Teacher Magazine vividly illustrates, professional development doesn’t have to be a snore.
In “Forever Young,” meet four Chicago-area teachers whose unique, self-propelled professional development techniques have served them—and their students—well for decades.
The educators in “Lights! Camera! Learning!” take the opposite tack, performing science experiments head to head with their peers in front of a live audience.
And “Point of Entry” explores how a trip to Ellis Island can send visiting teachers back in time as it brings them up to date.
Not that educators necessarily have to be in the same place to learn from each other. According to a recent study, online PD courses can be just as effective as in-person sessions.
In a field as diverse as the students it serves, it’s anyone’s guess how one-size-fits-all lectures became the default mode of educating teachers. But if there’s anyone out there who still thinks professional development somehow has to involve warmed-over pablum with a side of boredom, this is your wake-up call.
—Scott J. Cech, Executive Editor
A version of this article appeared in the January 01, 2007 edition of Teacher