Sure, we can exchange ideas, but that's not really professional development; that's a meeting.
Grade level meetings are much the same, but data analysis, again, is not professional development.
There are rare times, usually during the summer or the week before school starts back up in August, when the school district brings in a textbook representative to guide teachers through the teacher edition, but rarely is there actual, substantive professional development.
Something to help teachers learn content.
Something to help teachers learn methodology.
Something to inspire teachers to keep going.
Something to help teachers improve their teaching.
So what if I was in charge of professional development? How would I design a professional development regimen for a district of a school?
Would I hire an out-of-town specialist to give a speech and then send him on his way? Should send teachers to training in another city and then ask them to present at a faculty meeting? Is it a better idea to do a book study with the staff? Would we prefer a webinar?
I would make teachers feel comfortable with vulnerability. I would observe each teacher to help her find her strengths. When something about her teaching could be tweaked, I would connect her with a master teacher in the needed area. I'm confident that in my 30 years in the profession that I can help teachers develop their professional habits. I believe I could alleviate their anxieties and stresses. If the district's idea is to instill a collaborative aspect into our way of doing things, my vision for professional development could be a springboard to achieving that kind of a culture.
This wouldn't be a "one-and-done" professional development plan, and people would not just attend a session and then forget what was presented. I picture professional development personalized for each teacher's classroom - in each teacher's classroom.
For years, I thought it would be interesting to initiate a teaching theater where a real teacher would teach a real class of real students, while other teachers or potential teachers watched from a gallery above. The master teacher would conduct class below, while also pointing out certain aspects of the lesson to the teachers above, and asking questions along the way. While this may be a crazy idea, I believe teachers can learn by watching their peers. In my vision, I could help teachers find the right peers to observe.
At least it would be an effort to take the training on location. I believe it would be effective and lasting.