Would PD be a dirty word if…..?

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by scottjacksonx

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by scottjacksonx

When I introduced the concept of Passion Projects to our team, I described it as an opportunity for our students to learn and explore ANYTHING they wanted. This may have been a little intimidating, as I was immediately fielding questions of how we could possibly support our students to learn completely different concepts and showcase them in completely different ways. Most of our students need significant support to complete anything out of routine (we work with students with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities) so these questions were fair and justified.

Fortunately I work with extremely passionate staff, but most fortunately they are willing to hear me out and give things a go.

One of the plans we set in place was to group our students with an adult mentor based on the category of their interest.  This was very successful and meant we could support our students on their passion of choice and they could learn from each other as they worked to problem solve and manage their projects.

Reflecting on this process has me wondering why we wouldn’t facilitate the same opportunities for staff.

What if at the beginning of the year, we;

1. asked “what is it that you want to learn?”

2. grouped people into PLCs regardless of their experience/faculty/position but based on their learning interest and

3. allowed them time to support each other and direct their own learning

I wonder then if the word “Professional Development” would continue to be a dirty word?


  1. Tony Lunniss

    I think for lots of our teachers, PD is not a ‘dirty acronym’. Many seek out professional learning in a range of places and forms, both within and beyond the school & the structured programs or support we provide. Given the range of backgrounds, skills, stages & interests, there is no single approach that is going to work for everyone.

    • rhonimcfarlane

      I completely agree that many teachers do approach professional development with genuine fervor, they do seek it beyond the provisions of their school and see it as an essential aspect of being “professional”. In many cases as in our circumstances, staff are encouraged to try new things and explore learning in different ways. I also believe that as educators we need to keep exploring new ways to give time and opportunity to build connections, interests, be excited about learning and trying new things just as we do in the classroom when our teaching is not reaching our students. I agree there is never a single approach that we can mold to fit the needs of everyone, that was the point I was trying to make by suggesting we start with asking.

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