The Dirty Word


Professional development is a dirty word in education. Even at the slightest mention, educators are ready to run for the hills.

We can make it so that good positive vibes are associated with the term professional development instead. Try these four steps to improve how your colleagues view PD:

  1. Admit the mistakes that have taken place. A simple acknowledgment of the problem goes a long way toward changing the perception of PD. Admitting that there is a problem with professional development allows you to look at it with a different lens.
  2. Outline the reasons why it’s been problematic. Determine the struggle points within PD. Write down all of the reasons why it doesn’t work as currently constituted. Shift your plans once you identify the mistakes that have been made.
  3. Commit to a new definition of the term. Think about what you want PD to be. Use a sentence starter: “PD in my school is _______” or “Quality professional development must have ________.” Share your new definition with everyone so that they understand what PD can and should be.
  4. Define the words through actions. The only way to redefine the term professional development is by offering high quality, worthwhile PD sessions. Each PD offering needs to come back to the words shared in the mission statement. Knowing the mistakes, don’t just create the same old PD as usual. Instead, deliver powerful, effective professional development.

It’s time that we reclaim the term “professional development.” We don’t need to think of it as a dirty word in education. We don’t need to hide behind or create euphemisms for PD. It can be powerful, purposeful, and consequential. We just have to put in the effort to make it happen.




For more ideas and strategies to improve Professional Development in your setting, pick up a copy of ROGUE Leader: Make the Rules, Inspire Others, and Take Control of Your Own Professional Development Destiny.