What About Professional Development?

From educational reimbursement programs to attendance at job-specific conferences and multi-day regional events hosting 100s of educators from various schools, professional development (PD) is one of many benefits included in most every International Teaching Contract.

In case you haven’t attended a multi-day PD event, you’ll be interested to know they host well known keynote speakers, presenters, workshops, demonstrations, subject-focused group discussions and an opportunity to connect with other educators from around the region, many in your subject field. Along with the energizing effect comradery has on us all, nothing can replace these events for introducing educators to cutting edge practices and ideas that can be used immediately in the classroom.

COVID, of course, put a crimp on conferences and regional PD events, leaving many of us feeling isolated and unfulfilled in this department. In the face of COVID some schools even broke Contract and abandoned PD all together. Teachers are quoted as saying such contractual responsibilities could have been fulfilled but were abandoned altogether using COVID as an excuse. The fact remains, many of us missed the PD opportunity this past year.

ISR asks: When considering a school for your next career move, how important is a contractual promise of school-supported attendance for teachers at a multi-day, regional PD event? Is a lack of an educational reimbursement programs and/or stipends a deal breaker? Would you accept a position at a school that offered only in-school PD by a colleague? What about no PD at all?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

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19 thoughts on “What About Professional Development?

  1. The first PD has to commence from personal research and selve development. Most teachers move overseas just for the money with some performing far below standards and having no zeal to improve themselves.

    If a faculty has teachers who are committed to meeting core competences, they will obviously have very rich and productive collaboration during school wide PD sessions. The idea of external PDs may only come to supplement what the faculty is doing if necessary.

    A large proportion of teachers go for a whole academic year or more without reading a single paper on what has changed in their discipline or how education is evolving. It’s a shame!

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    1. I completely agree with your post. I think a big contributor of this is that teaching is in serious trouble as a profession in many western countries. In many US states, you can make more money doing Uber / Lyft / DoorDash full time than you can as a public school teacher. Because of the low pay, benefits and lack of upward mobility, many are viewing it as a sort of stepping stone career.

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  2. I always ask schools when I have an interview with them, “What does PD look like in your school?”….if they answer something about budget or sending new staff away for PD, I get very nervous! I want to join a learning community, and I want PD to be important in the school. I want to see teachers learning from each other – I want to see people support in developing themselves professionally – and I want to see all teachers, no matter how long they have been at the school – invested in!

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  3. Multiday PD sessions are just ways for teachers to eat a fancy buffet breakfast in hotels they wouldn’t normally stay in.

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  4. Peer collaboration and support in the context of your own school are proven to be more beneficial to school development than external courses. PD is for the school.

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  5. My school (IB continuum) obviously got us a group PD online workshop at a discount from IBO. Teachers had no say in the topic on the workshop. It was an online forum, just like your college days on Blackboard. It consisted of teachers at our school commenting back and forth on ideas. Very little actual solutions, practices, or knowledge were bestowed and administration took no notice of our ideas for improvements at the school. It was an echo chamber and not connected to other international IB schools in any way. When I applied for a workshop which was extremely applicable and necessary to my grade level in the spring, I was denied. This is my first year at an IB school and I am not impressed with the training.

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  6. Professional Development is a two way street. Prospective employers may include a solid PD program to sweeten a contract offer, but in this current climate-international travel or large gatherings may be impossible to implement.
    As a qualified professional, you should be continuing to search for opportunities to extend and develop yourself, not solely relying on your employer to facilitate this. Most of the time- there is a PD budget waiting to be spent and if you put a reasonable case to your head of teaching and learning, for a course that you find, they might agree to it rather than lose that funding. In my opinion. In this time of global uncertainty- travel to another country to change schools should be not based on if a school offers a PD program, but if the move will maintain or enhance your wellbeing. PD should be way down on the list.

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    1. It is a two way street. Admin should be ‘opening the door’ to PD by shortlisting and offering PD workshops that they are willing to pay to all staff on a regular basis. Then, teachers can accept and attend. If a teacher finds another program they should be apply to apply for it in a transparent and simple format. teachers should also be made aware of their personal PD budget for the year which would give them a clearer indicator of whether their PD choice would be approved / what would be covered.

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  7. None of my jobs in China offered PD, and the Chinese bosses didn’t seem to care at all about this. If done at all, it was done in a specious way, offered by a colleague who had obviously not researched the topic much.

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  8. My school sent the entire faculty to a 3 day PD session in Indonesia. There were teachers there from all around the region. It was fabulous. The school paid for travel, the event and gave us all a stipend for eating. Each teacher paid for their hotel room. I got so much out of the event. I had ideas and material to last the rest of the school year. Plus, I made some good contacts. Would I take a job at a school that did not offer PD in their contract. Probably not.

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  9. Many of us only take international school jobs for the money. Teacher salaries stateside are a joke. As such, PD isn’t high up on the list.

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    1. If you are a serious educator then you will find and fund your own professional learning if needed with due consideration to the compensation the school provides. It’s give. And take.

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  10. Now that virtual, online and in-school, by certified instructors are available, travelling for PD isn’t necessary.

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  11. While teaching at Huamao, we were promised a stipend for IB workshops, but because the pay didn’t cover travel, nobody did it.

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  12. PD might be mentioned in many.a contract but I promise you there are plenty of situations where no PD takes place at all!

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