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Make the Most of Professional Development

Do you love meetings? When you hear the letters PD paired together like PB&J do you get a warm feeling in your heart? Whether you love or hate professional development, it is a big part of the world of education. 

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If the letters PD make you shutter to your bones, this blog will help you get more out of your professional development experience. If, on the other hand, you are already breaking out your best pen to take notes, find some great tips to get the most out of professional development for teachers whether it’s in your school on at a conference. 

What is Professional Development?

Professional development is the act of attending meetings and workshops to gain knowledge on new strategies, technology, and more in the world of teaching. There are two different types of professional development you will encounter in your teaching career: mandatory and teacher chosen. 

Managing Mandatory PD

When you have to go to a mandatory professional development there are a few strategies you should use to make sure you are getting the most out of your time. 

Step 1: Stay Positive

I know whenever there is an in service day we all hope our administrators will say, “It’s a workday, spend time in your room getting what you need done.” If that’s the directive, awesome! Make sure you: 

  • Make a practical “To Do” list giving yourself small “reward” tasks like organize the top of my desk, change the calendar, etc. to give yourself brain breaks. 
  • Avoid going into the teacher lounge and getting sucked into a conversation that will not help you with the “To Do” list. 
  • Give yourself some time to visit with other teachers especially if you have a “team” of some sort you work with. 

If you have a speaker coming in for training, make sure you stay positive about the subject matter. I know at times it feels like some of the trainings brought in are ineffective or boring, but having a negative mindset does not help. So, to make the most of this training make sure you: 

  • Stay positive! 
  • Find a purpose before the PD begins. 
  • Be the positive Polly/Paul throughout the training 
  • Volunteer
  • Take notes of ideas you find interesting or want to know more about. 
  • Ask good questions 

Step 2: Bring Necessary Materials 

If you know ahead of time you are going to have a work day, make sure you plan ahead and bring some of the following items: 

  • A fun treat 
  • Some great music
  • Your favorite pens 
  • Materials to help you “redesign” your bulletin board (Hello Target!) 
  • Anything that will help you stay focused! 

For mandatory professional development meetings, you’ll want to make sure you always bring the following items: 

  • A fun treat (this is just always needed) 
  • A writing utensil or two 
  • Some paper 
  • Your computer and charger 
  • An agenda or day planner (in case you get an assignment or a future meeting date) 

Please notice your cell phone was not on either of those lists. A cell phone is very distracting and sometimes we turn into our students and have to sneak a Snap during a presentation. Don’t be that person. Be the positive person! Be the present person. 

Step 3: Always Reflect

Whether you had a day in your room during in-service or a training session, take a few minutes before you pick up the kids or get home and reflect on the day. Some questions you might want to ask yourself include: 

  • What was the purpose of today?
  • What is one thing I can use from today? 
  • How can I use this information and grow in my educational career? 

Reflecting on the day is always a good idea but especially if you are not a professional development day lover. 

Mandatory professional development on in service days can be long but make sure you stay focused because they would not happen if it wasn’t necessary. In addition, these in service days are also big on data and data is always important to drive us to being better teachers. 

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Teacher Chosen Professional Development Days 

One of the big reasons people attend workshops and conferences is to renew their teaching certificates. Instead of going to a workshop or conference just to get the CEU’s or the grad credit, select conferences and workshops that spark your interest as an educator. 

What are some factors that you may want to consider before you select your professional development? Use the list below to help you make a decision. 

Content and Grade Level

Knowing what the conference is going to be about is super important. If you are struggling finding classroom strategies that work, then a conference about this topic is perfect for you! Finding a topic that is important to you will help make the professional development more meaningful! 

While looking at the content is important, you need to also make sure you look at the grade level. The classroom strategies you would employ in an elementary classroom are different than those in secondary education due to the very structure of the school. 

Your Time 

There are times that you seriously just don’t have time but you want to get some professional development in. If time or scheduling isn’t working out for you, try to get into an online work shop. 

Online workshops are often available throughout the year and are usually set up like an online class. For some of these classes you will need to watch a webinar and post on a discussion board or write up a reflection. For others there will be a book study which can include discussion boards, quizzes, and reflections. 

If you are someone who works well on your own, having online professional development is great! Even if you don’t work well alone, you can still do an online course or book study but invite your friends. We usually get the best information from the people around us. 


There are so many great professional developments out there. As I look back and reflect on this blog, I realize that, even though (I admit) I sometimes cringe at the letters PD, it is one of the most powerful tools out there. 

Through professional development, you can learn about different classroom strategies, new technology, or even more subject specific information. Whether you love or hate PD it is a part of the educational world. So while you might hate going through the process, bring a little treat, put on your positive pants, and pull something great out no matter what the subject is and most importantly reflect. 

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Are you reading to SHAKE UP YOU TEACHING and bring some engaging and lively professional development to your school that is sure to have you rocking your classroom management and engaging your learners in a way you never dreamed? Check out this FREE GUIDE to Making the Most of Professional Development that you can use to present ideas to your administration for onsite professional development from Mrs. Shipley’s Classroom.

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