Teacher Professional Development Done Right

Today I have had the great pleasure of attending STEM: Innovation Forum 2015 in Portland, Maine. The forum was  sponsored by the Perloff Family Foundation, the University of Southern Maine, the Maine Community Foundation, and the Maine Space Grant Consortium. The forum was offered free of charge to educators in the state.

The day-long program was packed with presentations by teachers and students from throughout the state. The quality of projects and presentations was invariably stellar. Listening to this group of educators and students one would have no concerns whatsoever about the quality of education in our schools. These are teachers who are passionate about what they do and will work overtime to try new, promising programs out with their students – who will invest their intellect, energy and time into improving educational outcomes. The students at the forum were – one and all – invested, proud of their work, excited about learning.

Contrast the professional support one finds at this forum with the professional development that teachers receive in their schools and anyone at the forum would tell you there is no comparison. Professional development opportunities provided through public school districts are unfortunately by and large dry, bureaucratic, imposed on teachers from administration. Rarely does one feel the passion apparent on the part of the teachers and students who were at the forum.

We waste the energy of our teachers when we do not tap their energy, talents, and passions. Administrators in our school system need to start looking beyond state and national directives when guiding the curriculum in their schools.

Kathreen Harrison

About Kathreen Harrison

Kathreen Harrison is a public school teacher in Maine. She has a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College. She has worked in a variety of schools in New York and Maine in a number of capacities – French teacher, gifted and talented teacher, elementary school teacher, and curriculum coordinator for island schools. She has lived in Maine for 20 years and has a particular interest in school reform.