Professional Learning: “Is this Mandatory?”


“Less ‘fun ideas and silly stories’ and more practical resources. Please use our professional time professionally” and “Is this mandatory?” were a response on a follow-up survey from a training that my colleague and I gave. The training topic was an insight into the new teaching licensure requirement in technology for our state. We focused on multiple ways and places that teachers could explore to acquire the required credits. The majority of what we presented, while readily available if someone went looking for it, wasn’t entirely easily accessed. Our thinking was that we would provide easy links and videos to save teachers time in finding the various ways to get CEUs (Continuing Education Unit). And we provided part of a credit by giving this training.teachers at training

Providing instruction where we don’t know the small group of teachers coming in to work with us means that sometimes we are going to not provide enough, provide something the teacher doesn’t feel they need or go too quickly for someone. We attempt to differentiate during every training, but sometimes we miss the mark.

We take our feedback surveys personally. We really do want to modify our training to continue to improve the content we deliver. And I know we can’t make everyone happy (as was evidenced by the teacher and another colleague at this training!) But how do you discern whether the dissatisfaction is because of the content, the trainers, job unhappiness, or personal life affecting attitude? I feel it’s our job to at least attempt to meet as many people as possible right where they are.

question marksDid I take this teacher’s comment personally? You bet. Does it mean that I’ll never give that same training in the same way again? Probably. And a few years ago, I would lose sleep over what I “did wrong”. But I am a different person today. I have an amazingly supportive colleague who collaborates to make things better each time. We will digest the feedback and will find a way to respectfully and professionally follow up with this teacher to find out how or if we can provide digital learning support in the future.

This journey of educating isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave. It’s for those that, despite the criticism, despite the challenges keep coming back into the ring every day. Whether you work with children or adults, the motivation is the same: To open the door to learning and to make that learning relative and timely.

“Is this mandatory?” Yes, yes it is. While you might not hear the message yet, we will continue to share the message. While you might think it’s a waste of your time because you know more than we do, there are valuable things that we are learning from you at the same time. Teach us and help us help you. #neverstoplearning

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