A common myth is that teachers have the whole summer off. That’s not quite true. School districts often offer professional development opportunities, such as teacher institutes, to accommodate teachers’ flexible summer schedules. Even in the summer, a teacher’s time (or that of anyone seeking professional development) is still precious. Yet, some PD opportunities can waste time. Therefore, we consulted current and former teachers to identify their biggest PD pet peeves that steal time.
PD Pet Peeve #1
Word-for-word PowerPoints. We didn’t realize this was still an issue, but it appears some presenters believe the words on their slides are as riveting as an Agatha Christie whodunit. If the text on a PPT slide is large enough for participants to read, they don’t need it read to them. And if it’s not large enough to be read by everyone in the room, it doesn’t belong on the slide. Reading a PowerPoint word for word can also indicate poor preparation.
PD Pet Peeve #2
Jigsaw articles. A jigsaw strategy has attendees form groups. Each group tackles a different section of material. They then share what they glean from their section with everyone else. The approach breaks down if it’s poorly executed, such as when the material, though in sections, is still too much to digest efficiently. Participants can quickly lose interest.
PD Pet Peeve #3
Too much ego. It’s important for presenters to back up their words by describing their experience on the topic. For example, that they have written a book on it. But it can quickly get out of hand when they talk about themselves more than the material. Is it a workshop or a book-selling event?
PD Pet Peeve #4
Too much lecturing. PD offerings may be held in a lecture hall, and the presenter may be standing at a lectern. But attendees still don’t want to be lectured for six hours, particularly if the concept presented is new to them. Participants need breaks to digest and discuss the information.
PD Pet Peeve #5
Assigned seating. PD organizers often assign participants to seats with people they don’t know. Then, at certain points, presenters ask folks to get into small groups with those around them. For teachers, however, it’s better to form small groups with others from their own school. They can then discuss how concepts presented would apply to their unique situations.
PD Pet Peeve #6
Learning styles. Teachers know better than anyone that students have different learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile…), which requires varied teaching styles. Teachers have different learning styles, too, so no professional development offering should rely solely on one learning style, such as a droning lecture. And adding PowerPoint doesn’t count.