Best Practices for Professional Development

Are there any teachers out there – anywhere? – who, when they hear about upcoming professional development, actually look forward to it? I feel like it’s a truth universally acknowledged that teachers regard professional development as an unhelpful, frustrating time suck at best, with the added assumption that it will often be tedious and/or condescending.

Now this isn’t to say that I, personally, have never experienced PD that was useful and engaging. I absolutely have! But unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be typical.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s how you can ensure that your professional development is effective and meaningful.

Continue reading

Grit, Mindset, Prior Experience… and Parents


We had professional development about Angela Duckworth’s Grit. Duckworth refers to “grit” as the combination of passion and perseverance, and claims that this combination is what leads to success. Based on her story about the West Point survey, it seems that she is defining ‘success’ as being able to achieve goals that you’ve set for yourself.

mindset.jpgThe discussion did not really examine this definition of success, which was a shame, as the ability to set appropriate goals is a skill in and of itself. A goal that’s too difficult to reach creates discouragement and frustration, while one that’s too easy doesn’t provide a sense of accomplishment.

Likewise, it would also be helpful to explore passion. Why are different people passionate about different things? What creates passion? Understanding that might help us identify and develop passion, not only in our students, but in ourselves as well.

We did, however, start looking at perseverance. Why do some students give up while others keep trying? We discussed motivation (intrinsic/extrinsic) as well as locus of control, and that brought us to the concepts of “fixed” and “growth” mindsets that Carol Dweck discusses. Students with a fixed mindset view success or failure as based on inherent ability, while those with a growth mindset see it as more connected to the effort they put in or the strategies they used.

And we also noticed that there’s often a correlation between the mindset a student demonstrates and what we hear from parents.

Continue reading