The ScienceGoddess always has insightful thoughts in her postings at What It's Like on the Inside. Her recent post, Rubber and Road, has me thinking about the way that we teachers utilize the time given to us.
When I taught in the same state as the SG, Washington, the district I worked for had a monthly teacher work day. Some of these days were self-directed, meaning that the individual teacher could mange his time in whatever fashing he felt benefited his teaching. Did we always focus on planning, grading, or collaborating? No. But I did feel that the days had value.
Some of the monthly teacher work days were District directed, meaning we attended some sort of professional development or District informational session. Rarely did I find this time valuable. I hate when these presentations try to turn us into a high school classroom, full of modelling teacher behaviors. I hate it mostly because we can't act like actual high school students!
Here in Connecticut, we have a half-day every other week. There are no teacher work days, and the time allotted on these half-days are filled with professional development sessions. They are pointless. I haven't learned anything new, and I haven't collaborated in the right ways with my peers.
And that is at the heart of my problem with "in-service" days. If our adminstrators made them useful, I wouldn't have a problem attending. If we really knew how to work together for the good of our students, these days could have value. But, too many teachers are entrenched in the antiquated methods of the past. Too many teachers don't know how to work well with others.
To be honest, if we were treated more like professionals, I would be happy. But, more teachers need to treat teaching as a profession as well.