Professional Development Opinion

Looking for a Five-Cent Solution

By Learning Forward — January 30, 2015 1 min read
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Stephanie Hirsh

During a recent trip to the grocery store, the cashier told me that the city had instituted a five-cent charge for plastic bags. I immediately purchased three reusable bags to carry home my groceries and will always have those bags with me.

As I walked to the car, I thought about what had just happened. For years, I had watched while others brought their reusable grocery bags to the checkout lane. I thought it was a great idea, but I never took the step to change my habits. I knew why I should change my habits, but hadn’t made the change -- it just wasn’t important enough to me. And then, in the blink of an eye, I changed a behavior.

It’s not that I can’t afford the five cents. It was the principle. But what was the principle? That I wouldn’t pay for something that before had been free? That I heard the city’s message about reducing waste? Or that I already knew it was the right thing and now had the motivation to change?

Whatever the reason, I bought the reusable bags, and I believe my shopping behaviors are changed forever. Though I will no doubt find myself at the store without the reusable bags on occasion, I now have a different vision for what it means to go grocery shopping.

The more I thought about this overnight behavior change, the more I wonder: What is the five-cent solution to the professional learning problem? What simple solutions might we be overlooking that could help educators, policymakers, or thought leaders choose what they know is the better behavior? Are there simple policy changes that would make the difference?

Change movements find levers in unexpected places. Help me see what solutions might influence the behavior changes we need in systems, schools, and classrooms to put an end to wasteful professional development. I know our creativity will help us find our own five-cent solution. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

The opinions expressed in Learning Forward’s PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.