When Done Correctly, Annual Teacher Training Is Invaluable

Yesterday, The Washington Post and reporter Lyndsey Layton published an article citing a study from nonprofit TNTP, formerly known as The New Teacher Project, suggesting that billions of dollars in annual teacher training is largely a waste.

Throughout my travels over the past eight years training educators, I’ve talked to plenty of teachers who have told me horror stories regarding some of the training sessions they’ve been forced to participate in, only to learn nothing. Many school districts approach training the wrong way by cramming too much content into sessions that are too short. Class sizes often are too big and very seldom is there any follow-up.

Frankly, however, there are a lot of school districts that get it right. Take, for instance, El Campo Independent School District in Texas. Following a full-day training on the Gaggle Safe Classroom Learning Management System (LMS) last spring, the district observed measurable results, including:

  • 75% increase in total log-ins
  • 121% increase in email messages
  • 239% increase in file uploads, drastically reducing paper consumption and costs
  • 499% increase in school and teacher blog posts

Trainers have a responsibility to help the school district succeed. Obtaining the correct certifications and tailoring training to the needs of the district, school and even the classroom must be a priority. That’s why we provide our trainers the resources they need to become Google Certified Educators and Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts and have them tailor every session according to the actual needs of the customer.

Now back to the TNTP report and the Post article. Taking the cost of professional development per teacher at one district and applying it to the largest 50 districts just doesn’t make sense. The 50 largest districts across the country have their own unique challenges. In addition, a survey of 10,000 teachers extrapolated to represent the millions of public and private school teachers across the country opens this study to a significant margin of error.

Regardless of whether or not the TNTP study represents a biased sample, it’s important to understand the real issue: Every school district has unique needs based on demographics of the teacher and the student populations and many other factors—something TNTP and the Post apparently ignored.