Top 5 Teacher's Professional Development Myths

by Guy E. White on 11 November, 2014

The mythology of teacher’s professional development explained.

Professional development is one of the most helpful yet misunderstood aspects of a teacher’s career. Over a single year, educators will engage in dozens of hours of training. However, not everything you hear about these development opportunities is true.

As teachers and administrators make decisions about where, how, and when they should conduct professional development, here are some of the common myths that are voiced:

Myth #1: “The wisdom is in the building.”

Not always! Sometimes, the building needs some outside wisdom. If outside wisdom was not needed, we would not have any need for textbooks, professional development, or listening to anyone besides our insular group.

Myth #2: “We save money by hosting the training ourselves.”


Simultaneously, even if you are considering a small-scale training, sometimes the cost benefits of having stellar trainers outweigh the cost of educators not having access to such individuals. Imagine the benefit of working with the most life-changing trainers in a specific area of practice. It could be worth outsourcing!

Myth #3: “Teacher-directed professional development is best.”

Sometimes it is best for educators to self-direct their own professional development - but not always. Have you ever had a friend or colleague alert you to a blind spot in your practice as a teacher? It’s hard to see one’s own faults. It’s hard for staff to collectively see what changes are needed. For this reason, it could be best to get some outside help from people who specialize in teacher training.

Myth #4: “District-directed professional development is best.”

This largely depends upon your district. Districts can have dysfunctional cultures that don’t allow administrators to make the best training decisions for their teachers. Unlike many administrators that fear reprisal from subordinates, unions, or the public at large, professional development trainers neither operate by the same rules nor are governed by the same motivators: their job is to provide the best training experience possible. If such professional development vendors do not fulfill their promises, they are fired.

Myth #5: “We don’t need an expensive outside consultant.”

This is like saying that your students would not benefit from an hour with Steve Jobs when he was alive. Regardless of the cost of an outside consultant, they may have the facilitative skills and teaching experience that could mean the world to your students, staff, faculty, and parents. To label the spending of money as a blanket “bad” is silly. Each outside consultant should be evaluated based upon the merits of the expertise or results they have brought to others.

With what do you disagree? What would you add to this list?

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