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Are we doing everything we can?

By September 10, 2009June 14th, 20165 Comments

Earlier this week, President Obama gave a speech to students throughout the nation, urging them to “set your own goals for your education—and to do everything you can to meet them.” He spoke to the teacher’s responsibility of inspiring students and pushing them to learn and closed his speech by remarking that “your teachers and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have education you need.”

Strong words and straightforward advice from this nation’s leader.

But not necessarily all true.

A former colleague, who is now an instructional coach in a school district which will remain nameless, told me recently that while some teachers embrace professional learning, too many (even one is too much) still resist the idea of using coaching or professional development to improve their teaching methods.

While I’m not astounded by this finding, I find it extremely disappointing that we are in the business of helping kids and increasing student achievement and yet there teachers out there who would rather settle for the status quo.

I’m left wondering: Are we truly doing everything we can to help students get the education they need?

Mel Sussman, a former school principal, is a principal consultant at McREL.

McREL is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.


  • Claus says:

    We should also bear in mind that many teachers have had very bad professional development experiences: Useless, ineffective, drive-by workshops that do little or nothing to improve practice.
    In districts with well-designed professional learning opportunities, teachers most often rise to the occasion as they understand the value. Hamilton County, TN offers a case in point. Teachers who had been maligned as ineffective flourished under a system that provided well-designed staff development and support.

  • Jennifer says:

    I do a lot of training for my district and my thoughts are that if it is not something I would want to sit through then I won’t present it. I believe I have to use every bit of my time to keep my participants engaged and excited about their new learning. I see it as a challenge to get those teachers that are not willing to change to actually change!

  • nick brooks says:

    I am a first year teacher and I think as a profesional in any profession should take advantage of every opportunity to gain knowledge on your profession. I am fortunate to teach in a county where a majority of our teachers and the teachers in my department really enjoy professional development and really endorse it.

  • Sharday says:

     It is extremely a disgrace that some teachers settle for the status quo. It affects the students more than the teachers. If teachers are not giving their best ability to develop quality education for their students they need to find another profession. I cannot understand why an educator will stay in this business if they truly do possess the desire. Teachers do not have high salaries, so if one does not love teaching why teach? Honestly educators have to make an individual choice to be the best teacher they can. We really cannot say “Are WE truly doing everything can to help students get the education they need? It should say “Am I truly doing everything can to help students get the education they need?” Reflection first then collaboration will lead to a developing professional learning community.

  • Patrice Sukie says:

    I am presently a graduate student at Walden University and an Information Technology teacher in the Caribbean. I believe teachers who plan to teach must engage in professional development. This is one medium in which we will be informed which will assist us in being highly effective teachers.
    We, as educators, need to be involved in Professional Learning Communities where teachers can collaborate and share best practices experienced in the classroom. It is our responsibility to motivate and inspire students to learn. If we are not committed to doing this, then it is time for us to leave the classroom to dedicated teachers who want to make a difference.

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