The Dark Side of Continuous Professional Development

I use the word “Continuous” in the most literal sense.

Epstein Family Photos

As a proud member of a wonderful PLN I am exposed to fascinating blog posts on a regular, very frequent basis. Despite these posts being about an incredibly diverse range of topics, they all have one element in common.

Every single post is a call for me to reflect.

A call to reflect on what I’m doing, what I did and what I would like to be doing. To reflect on what the students did and what that tells me about where I stand with them. Even to reflect on how one adapts our teaching to our physical space (Thanks to Tyson Seburnt).

I come home from school every day and turn on the computer to see what my PLN is up to. Even with resolutions that I really do stick to regarding seriously limiting the number of recommended posts I read a week, all it takes is one post and I’m off to “reflect -o-land”. I mean, just listen to a sentence from this week’s trigger post, by Kevin Stein:

“Take a personal time-out: as teachers, we want to fix perceived problems as soon as possible.  But perceived problems might not be actual problems…”

Stein has certainly struck a chord with me regarding rushing in too quickly to resolve things in class. A “contol issue”, I would say.

Reflection takes time, time that isn’t built into my daily life. Many teachers I work with work many hours, juggle work and family. Just like I do. Some even study something. Once upon a time I used to have proffesional development, like they do, only over the holidays. Now the time I need to think about what I am exposed to causes me to go to the cupboard to get more detergent and not to remember why I went there. To let the laundry pile up while I’m corresponding with the author of the blog. To feel even more impatient with teachers talking about a stupid reality TV show when we could be discussing this interesting topic.

Epstein Family Photos

Although some say time is elastic, I have not found it to be so. It is always a trade off. On different days the trade off is different, that is all. Today the need to reflect about what I’m feeling has caused me to sit and write this blog post, instead of taking a power walk. Which is the worst sin of all.

I seeked out this PLN and these posts becuase they answered a need I have. I do not have anywhere else to discuss these issues. In my PLN. being a nerd for wanting to do so is not considered a negative thing. I love that.

But everything comes with a price.


13 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Continuous Professional Development”

  1. Great advice, I know I can easily be guilty of this and I have to schedule of time from teaching. It’s like when you meet up with other teachers and have a “no shop” talking rule…somehow it seems to come up anyway.
    Maybe we need to minimise our cpd 😉

  2. Chris!
    So glad you know what I mean! Though at my school, there is never an opportunity to talk about what I want – its always letting off steam or technical stuff. That is if the topic of discussion is about school at all…
    Got to walk more though…
    Thanks for Stopping by!

  3. It’s actually something I’ve been really thinking about recently. A lot of my blogging is one point then move on. How do I really expect to change/ learn from that? Sometimes ideas need time to ferment, I suspect that sometimes we need to hear something three or four times is simply because we forget it. My current action point is that I’m going to go back over my blog post from the last year and look at what I have actually changed. Other than that I’m trying a monthly theme of reflections so I give proper time to growing not rapid fire changed. (and taking time away from it all)

    1. Oh Chris, I peeked at your comment before going to bet last night. I did fall asleep right away (exhasuted) but at 04:40 there was a thunder storm which woke me. I couldn’t go back to sleep, thinking about what you wrote. I don’t think we need to hear things many times. I think, rather, that we need the repitions in order to take things in, really “get” them. What really got me thought, is that you suggested ANOTHER way of reflecting, looking back at the blog. Hand’t done that. I have a blog birthday coming up, I think I will borrow your idea. Thanks again!

  4. Ah Naomi!

    I know what you mean : ) I’ve missed train stops, bus stops, because I was reading something great from our PLN.

    I also wish like you that I had more people to reflect with – I do have some, but more would be great!

    Thanks for writing this.


  5. Luke may have you reflecting on whether you should have said continuing instead of continuous….

    And it is indeed dark when, instead of preparing a new class – I think I’m suicidal in taking on a 4-hour CAE prep class – I’m here reading, pondering, writing…

    OK, back to that, yea, that grind…

  6. I hear you! I recently finished the Delta and thought it would lead to incredible lessons and tons of great inspiring posts for my blog.

    I was sooo wrong. Instead I had my head crammed full of too many very interesting things and felt a bit lost, not knowing what to think about/apply first. It took a while for me to feel comfortable with lesson planning and teaching again and my blog…well let’s just say it’s on sabbatical!

  7. Naomi,

    I wish I had something really great to say. Something positive and uplifting. But I don’t. I just know that I love my PLN, that learning from people like you and Chiew and Vicky and Chris help make every day at work brighter than before I got involved in all this. But like you said, it’s a trade off. Less sleep. Papers which are always on this side of late. Waking up wishing I had had more sleep. Folding the laundry at 11 PM. I wish there was time built into my work schedule, into all our work schedules to do this kind of professional development at work, on the job. I wish our bosses, the powers that be, everyone believed that this, this blogging, this learning, this time to think, is also what teaching is about. But I’m not going to hold my breath. I’ll just keep making those trade offs. Sometimes I’ll take a time out. But I’ll be back. Because there are blog posts like this one waiting for me.


  8. Vicky!
    So glad you know what I mean. Not the only one! Just don’t read while walking on the street – that’s one place to keep all your sensors open despite the temptations!
    I don’t know, use of the “ing” form on “continuing” seemed to describe what I am feeling – it is “now” but a very long now! Thanks for making time from all that work to read the post – good luck!
    You just made me feel better about flatly refusing to try to be accepted to a “Google Academy for Teachers” despite hearing that it is quite awesome. I simply cannot deal with being overwhelmed with a million and one ways to use Google tools all in a short time. It’s quite enough regulating the flow of what I have here. A new idea needs to be thought about, tried and explored. slowly…
    Hope you get back to blogging soon! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Kevin,
    You DID have something really great to say. You put it so well. In an ideal world it would be recognized that reflective time is needed. But that’s not going to happen. And it does make me feel better knowing that I’m not the only who recognizes that a price is being paid here, but I can’t have it any other way.
    Thanks for that!

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