As the school year comes to a close, educators everywhere start planning their required professional development (PD). Of course you have the workshops required by the school and the conferences dealing with your subject area. Hopefully you have some options to learn new technology and teaching methods. The question is do you use what you learn?
I understand that teachers can get overwhelmed by hours or even days of PD, but it is useless unless you actually use at least some of what you learn. If you are unhappy with what your school requires, find some workshops that you are interested in and will actually use. I will be attending a PD Summit in Fort Worth hosted by Texas Instruments and hosting a couple of math workshops myself: Teaching Strategies for Success in a Mathematics Classroom and Promoting Productive Struggle That Leads to Understanding. If your school won’t pay for them (you should always ask), there are several grants that will pay for PD. There are also several online PD options including TI’s Webinars, AETN’s ideas, and My Course Room that provide free options. You would also be surprised at what your colleagues know. Sometimes just asking a fellow teacher for a couple hours of their time to show you how to use a technology they use can be enough for you to implement it in your own classroom.
The point is every educator needs some training that will allow you to grow. If the school isn’t doing it for you, it is up to you to find it elsewhere. Just like everything else in the world, your classroom needs to change yearly to prepare students for life after high school. If you really want to grow as an educator, you have to be willing to learn new things and find good professional development that you will use.