The teachers talk: are Professional Development days valuable?


Jackie Sibila, Editor-in-Chief

Each school year brings new changes to the Baltimore County Public Schools’ calendar. Most notably, students look forward to the various professional development (PD) days sprinkled in, ecstatic for a day with no school. 

For the 2022-2023 school year, six total PD days can be found in the months of September, October, January and April. This calendar works in five official professional development days as well as a day off for the Maryland State Educators Association Convention (basically another professional development day). 

While the only consequence students have to suffer is a day to sleep in, the teachers must take the day to attend mandatory meetings/trainings to – for lack of better words – professionally develop. However, Dulaney’s teacher population has spoken out about these various PD days, sharing their thoughts, concerns and suggestions. 

When asked the extent to which professional development days have value, 24 out of 30 Dulaney teachers responded, marking the value of these days at a five out of ten or lower (ten being extremely valuable and one being not valuable). 

As professionals, teachers are capable of deciding how to most appropriately use their time to improve their practice. Personally, I have gained a lot more from reading teaching books that I’ve chosen and reviewed on my own time than from attending any mandatory PD session,” one teacher said. 

Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of teachers agreed that the time they spend on mandatory professional development days could be put to better use. One anonymous teacher elaborated on this notion. 

The PD days would be most beneficial if teachers were allowed to use the day for their respective needs. The training sessions generally do provide useful information, but it is hard to absorb or even consider implementing that information when the workload is overwhelming.” they said. 

Some teachers are also notably frustrated with the planning that goes behind the mandatory days, citing that they feel as though they are put together “hastily.” The content is also a concern as more than one teacher felt as though the PD days are filled with busywork. Another anonymous teacher’s analogy sheds light on what they believe PD days have to offer.  

They said, “I imagine the content organizers just finding who would be available to facilitate a session and then the content is determined. This method often results in feeling like dinner was made from all of the random leftovers in the fridge – it still offers nutrition, but it also doesn’t fuel any excitement about mealtime.” 

While most teachers agreed that PD days lack sufficiency, there was a bit more dissonance with how teachers felt regarding the impact that PD days have on the students. Mixed responses made up the answer to the question: Do you feel as though the addition of various professional development days into this school year could have a positive impact on students’ education? 

There seemed to be a slight bit of disagreement over whether or not PD days actually meet the professional needs of the teachers as well. Some teachers simply stated that the days do not meet their needs, while others indicated that the virtual format allows them to grade and plan while the PD sessions run in the background. Despite this, the consensus seemed to be that the sessions themselves are not game changing in the education world. 

Though the BCPS calendar is set in stone this year, there is always the possibility for changes in the schedule in the upcoming years. PD days have the ability to become so much more for teachers, but only time will tell.