The Noble Nature of Personal Development

The noble nature of personal development ought to make the Professional Development Plan a valued tool that focuses learning and builds success.  Stressed female lawyer looking at laptopBut, I fear that somewhere between the PhD who suggested the idea of a PDP and the teachers that have to created it, the beauty of personal development defaults to yet another required cut and paste formality. The idea is good; the system not so much.

Perhaps it would be better if administrators had time to interact with teachers around their PDP’s.  For most principals, the idea sounds dreamy but the practical tasks that flood their office make it hard to encourage teachers in their pursuits.  Most teachers would rather focus on getting their classroom set up and helping students learn about learning.  So, when teachers are required to compete a task that has no practical connection with anyone or anything in their educational setting it’s just another useless teacher task.

Besides, the PDP software is glitchy and hard to use.  Goals don’t show up where they should.  It’s all independent, individualized and impersonal but supposedly essential.  Most teachers aren’t even wired to build out goals.  That’s why they didn’t go into business – where goals drive decisions.  They went into EDUCATION because they had a passion to see little minds absorb facts, stories, truths and ideas.  They became teachers because they loved kids and cared about student’s lives.

Ultimately, it’s challenging to build out the PDP knowing that they’re not going to look at it again until mid-year.  Then, back it goes, into the knowledge vault to be preserved until the end of the year.  That special time when they rate their own success with goals they created but didn’t really care about – because it was a required task not an authentic personal pursuit.

Teachers who personally pursue creative and meaningful teaching goals don’t need a PDP.  They attend a Ron Clark event and come home changed.  They hear stories about how other teacher’s students came alive and they lay awake all night dreaming about what it would take to ignite an unquenchable fire in their 22 sleep students the next morning.  They watch a youtube video and the ideas that explode in their hearts fuel their curiosity, exploration, creativity and excitement.  Inspired teachers become an unstoppable force of educational transformation.  When teachers hearts blaze with fresh fire, learning is contagious.

I’ve watched it happen as I listened to my teacher wife get an idea in her mind and stay up half the night perfecting it; researching it; cutting out pieces so that kids, who probably stayed up too late and ate too much sugar for breakfast, could come bouncing into her class and experience the thrill of learning.  All that creativity didn’t get any press on her PDP.  She’s a teaching genius and she’s not alone.  Many teachers sacrifice time and energy to bring learning to life in the hearts and minds of their students.

Why we Support Administration and Teachers

Adorable 7 year old children, boys and girls, in brown and blue baggy men's suits and big shoes over white background.Coaching teachers and administrative staff helps them make a bigger impact by focusing on they most value.  When I work with teachers, we focus on what they most want to see happening in their classrooms.  We acknowledge the mundane but sort through it to focus on what Sean Covey refers to as “Wildly Important Goals” in their classrooms.  We brainstorm ideas they feel will engage their students and motivate them to learn and grow and make it happen!   When I work with principals and support staff, we focus on leadership and influence.  We find ways to collaborate with others who share this zeal for creating powerfully contagious learning environments.  We turn school goals into powerful learning adventures. When teachers are inspired, student learning accelerates.  When administrators are inspired, teachers feel supported (trusted).

I say, try to find a way to capture that on an annual PDP!

Charter School Coaching has a special heart for the staff who work with charter schools but we will gladly engage any teacher or administrator looking for supportive resources.  We’ve love to hear more about the kind of learning culture you’d like to see in your school.  Let us show you a process that will help your team work better together with less conflict and more collaboration.


Coach Dan