If Teachers Planned Inservice Training…

Team Work

I let out quite a chuckle when I saw this picture. I’ve been there and I’ve made that face.

*Disclaimer* This blog is not meant to imply that teachers do not appreciate learning. It is also not intended to imply that we are ‘lazy’, ‘unprofessional’ or the like. We wouldn’t be in education if we didn’t appreciate its value. What we don’t appreciate is receiving the exact same training year after year. That’s not Professional Development. That’s insulting. As far as those looking for examples on what could be done during In-Service, please read my other blog entitled ‘Get on the Bus’. Any and all comments which use bad language, insult another who comments by name calling, etc. will not be posted. *

It got me to thinking…teachers are required to attend Inservice “training” before school. It’s always dreaded and I, personally, would rather have a cavity filled than sit 3 days in a hard wooden chair, rehashing the same things year after year after year after…you get the picture.  What if teachers were in change of Inservice? What would we do away with if we could suggest anything and people in charge would listen? Ohhh, the possibilities…..


1. Please do not give us binders full of materials we will probably never use because YOU (the planner) attended a training and decided it was awesome.  Honestly, just give us an empty binder. That’s what is going to happen anyway. We listen to your synopsis, trying our best not to roll our eyes or poke the person next to us, and then, when it’s over, in the hidden comfort of our room, we are going to throw away these copies and use the binder. Save a tree. Just give us the binder, say you went to a conference and let’s move on. Time saved: 1 hour.


2. Please do not read your PowerPoint presentation to us.  At some point in time, we’ve all proven we are literate.  Also, doubly, please do not put said PowerPoint presentation in aforementioned binder we will not use. Just don’t. Time saved: 30 minutes.


3. No, we do not want to change how we teach AGAIN because so and so came out with a new technique which looks familiarly like the one we used several years ago until a new technique came out and we used that. And for goodness sakes, please, please, we don’t need another laminated copy of Bloom’s taxonomy. Nope. Time saved: Up to a day. Literally.


4. I like my coworkers, and heck, I even love some that I’ve known a while, but I don’t want to hold yarn in a shape with them and throw a ball around until it falls through a hole. You REALLY want work place bonding? Break us into groups, give us a list of clues and tell us there’s a pay raise hidden somewhere on campus.  Oh yeah, you’ll see some bonding, and some true colors come out. Time saved: 1 hour, We’re bonded and richer


5. What we despise? Really, really loathe. Think-Pair-Share = No.  You know what’s going to happen? You think we’re sitting around talking about your binder, and your PowerPoint (in the binder) and how much we loved the yarn activity, when really, we’re talking about where we’re going to for lunch. You can call on us and we’ll make something up on the fly that sounds relevant if you need us to do that. We’re teachers, remember? We are experts of thinking off the cuff. We’re still throwing away your binder, and now we know we’re having Mexican food for lunch. You can’t come. Time saved: 30 minutes.

Mission statement

6. Why ask us what the Campus Mission Statement and goals should be if the Mission Statement and goals have not changed in 20 years? Hand us a copy, we’ll grunt in agreement, and we’re done. Please don’t give us a copy and ask us to Think-Pair-Share with the group about these things. We care about as much as the students care that the floors are waxed. Time saved: At least an hour.

Sounds great

7. We know you want us to get into the groove ASAP with our ISPs and our plans for those in DAEP and ISS. We see we have scheduled ARDs or have paperwork on students that have a BIP.  We also need to look at our STAAR scores, but the 411 is that we are A-OK with actually saying the words. Time saved: Not really applicable, but at least everyone can keep up with what’s being said.

And last, but not least…


8.  We are not statisticians. Some of us may be able to do statistics under threat, but what we really want to know, in caveman speak even, is ‘You do good’ or ‘You do bad’. That’s it. We are relatively easy to please. Please do not hand us copies of every single test ever taken in the last 15 years and ask us to create and graph the distribution. This is when we suddenly get an ‘urgent’ phone call, or stomach troubles. (By the way, we’re all hanging out in the bathroom, rolling our eyes, heavily sighing, and walking very, very slowly). Time saved: 1 hour

474 thoughts on “If Teachers Planned Inservice Training…

  1. carol says:

    facial, pedicure, full body massage now that’s my idea of a teacher in-service/workday That’s motivation!!!

  2. Also, do not have administrators from Central office standing in the hall and monitoring how many times teacher’s leave “workshops” to use restrooms, or to check if we are leaving early for lunch, arriving late from lunch, or leaving early at the end of the day. Last year we were finished with our task by 1:30, but had to sit until 3;30, the time our workday officially ended.

    • Joe says:

      The next time this happens to you look each one of them in the eye as you walk by them, hold up your three fingers all touching ( not your thumb or pinkie) and tell them all to “read between the lines”.

  3. Renae says:

    These are all so incredibly true! Though there should have been a #9 that says: Save us all a day and let us have one more day inside our classrooms setting them up. We are all daydreaming, sketching and planning it out during the “Child Outcomes” training anyways as we “listen” to your 3 hour lecture on how important it is to teach these kids on level with the rest of the state.

    • BeeJay says:

      What I do is come in 2 unpaid days early; our inservice starts on Wed before Memorial Day, so I come in on Monday & Tuesday, get the classroom ready, turn in all reproductive work I can, say hi to the admin and support staff, and stay late. I still have to go in (usually Memorial Day) to finish details….

    • linda says:

      Yes! Get a head start on reading IEP Plans and 504’s!! SSOOOOO much to do! It is all I can think about during those infernal meetings…

  4. hollis hood says:

    I love this!! last year we changed principals three times. Because the academy concept didn’t work (grouping by grade) it’s being done this year. What was the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing expecting different results. If we really wanted to use time wisely we’d spend a week on technology and be a step ahead of the latest student phone. They are not going to relate to the line we are laying down if we don’t know more than they do.

  5. Leslie Gray says:

    This is great ! It reminds me of an old (1982 ) but equally delightful look at August inservice written by Toni Sharma in the Phi Delta Kappan comparing the event to the artificial insemination of cows. It is worth looking up. Phi Delta Kappan, v63 n6 p403 Feb 1982

  6. Cute! Reminds me of one of the funniest in-services over the years. I had each of my staff draw(or attempt to) themselves on two transparencies. One before and one after a mini lesson by my art teachers. It was a riot!
    Jim Trevino

  7. You hit the nail on the head! I’m now retired and so glad I don’t have to attend these anymore. I can get my own massage and meet friends for lunch without the training.

    • Jennifer Jorstad says:

      Acronyms! They fly out of people’s mouths without the courtesy and grammarly correctness of first identifying to what they refer. The sad story, usually the Redbook fiction piece about “Teddy” or about another elementary kid. Rule #1 Know your audience! High school teachers don’t want to hear about ankle-biters and vice-versa.

  8. Inservice days really should be in classroom days! One presenter began by telling stories about variations of gender specific restrooms. I have no idea what else she talked about, bjt 15 years later I remember the mental images of spiders in women’s and fountains in men’s! Professional sharing at its most relevant!

  9. PJ says:

    You must have been sitting behind me during our In-Service and read my mind about what I was thinking! After teaching for 22 years I just wanted more time in my room to work up some fun learning projects for the kids

  10. Andy H says:

    Wow! Very insightful. I’m starting my 25th year and have been through the “let’s rename this and pretend it’s new” cycle about 20 times. I’m supposed to introduce my staff to Common Core this fall… The district office is preparing binders! Oh no… Here we go again!

    • Rose says:

      Eek! Introduced Common Core (CCCS) last year at an in-service to my social studies department. This year, I am privileged to present a Power Point explaining the difference between gifted (GT) and bright children.; rest assured it will be in a binder for all participants. Here’s an acronym the young folks are fond of that is applicable for me: FML!

  11. John R. says:

    I’m an administrator and each year we try our best to get teachers involved and teaching sessions similar to how a conference works and to give the necessary information in a meaningful efficient way that honors the district work we are moving forward; while, also trying to honor teachers’ time and expertise. I do appreciate knowing the pitfalls to avoid, but it would also help me to know what are some things that you do want?

    • John R. says:

      Just read the Get on the Bus blog as well, feel much better, we were already doing about 3/4 of that and it had a few good ideas to add.

    • Carla says:

      Time, time, time in the classroom seems to be a common thread. Time for the teachers to collaborate and share. A model of what or classroom teaching should look like instead of having us sit and listen to what the classroom environment should look like.

    • Bonnie says:

      Again, more time in the classroom. More time to collaborate with each other on lessons. More time to do the things that actually help us in our jobs. I’m fortunate that my district and my building seem to have worked much of this out. But I still want more time in my classroom, even after 20 years of teaching!

    • Kristi says:

      The last couple of years, our principal has built in time at the end of the inservice day to work on whatever the training is about. Depending on the training, we may break into grade level teams or even be able to go work/plan in our rooms. So often, we get the information but there is never any TIME to work out what to do with it. It has been well received and we are very thankful.

    • Ellen says:

      Time to work in our classrooms, time to plan, time to digest what’s been shared with us before jumping to the next thing.

    • John, as a teacher going into my 23rd year, I can say that I’d appreciate differentiated instruction. After all, it is what you expect us to do for the children, but administration and district leaders don’t provide that for us. I need to learn things that are relevant to me. I teach ELA and Social studies, so why was every teacher in my school required to take 1/2 day math seminar last year? I had to take a DIBELS workshop although I already know how to use it (another 1/2 day session the day before school started). I had to take training required for new teachers, such as classroom management and assessment strategies (a once a month PLC meeting after school). This is what I need and probably won’t get…I need PD on teaching ELL’s. 75% of my students come from Spanish speaking homes, and about 45% are designated as needing ELL support, yet we have ONE ELL teacher in our entire building. When an admin asked me what I wanted for PD this year and I said ELL training, she said, “Well, good luck. I don’t think that’s going to happen.” So, to get the PD I need, I will either have to take a college course or read a book on my own, and I will be spending the week before school starts being trained on how to raise test scores, Common Core, and what not.

    • Mary Ann Koder says:

      Let us teach, prepare and do our job. If you want professional development do it in the summer and pay us for it, instead of us paying to take it. I did not sign up to do more homework, I already have enough.

    • As noted, time in the classroom. Time for the grade team to get their things coordinated. Time to get my room set up and everything ready for the first day the students arrive. One final pitfall that still has us rolling: a presentation on teaching models in which the presenter noted that the least effective method of teaching is direct instruction, and presented her info via direct instruction to the point that she described cartoons rather than show them on the screen behind her. Even the superintendent finally interrupted her, told her she’d lost her audience, and dismissed us for the day.

  12. Sal says:

    Admin asked what would make a good in service. Teach us something new! I know lots of teachers who might benefit from being shown how to create a video instead of the dreaded and useless PowerPoint slideshow of notes. Someone on your campus knows how to so this. Ask them to teach it.
    Apps. Show us some great and useful apps.
    New textbook adoption? Give us time to go through the materials, create syllabi, set up lessons, etc. together as a department.
    Do not assign our seats – this usually occurs in an effort to make us pay attention to something – if you’re doing that, you know whatever it is you’re presenting is a snooze.
    Let us talk to each other. Present a skit on classroom management if you think we need a brush up.
    In general: Show- don’t tell.

  13. amy j says:

    This is great! It had me rolling. Great read as we head into “inservice days” in the next couple of weeks. Thanks!

  14. Bonnie says:

    One of the most ironic PD workshops I ever went to was one where they gave us binders, folders, and a CD of everything… and the topic was about how we will only remember about 10% of what we do in PD workshops…

  15. Jeannie says:

    Today our district offered maybe 15 choices of sessions in the morning and 15 different choices in the afternoon. Teachers pre-registered for the classes based on their choice/interest. The two sessions I attended were very helpful – one on Closing achievement gaps and the other on using STEM projects in the classroom (geared toward all subject areas).

  16. Melissa says:

    Wow. I found this to be so insulting and unprofessional. Not to mention if a student said this about a teacher’s classroom instruction he/she would be highly insulted. If ALL students were reading at grade level and performing to the highest standards in service days wouldn’t be necessary…instead everyone wants to blame the parents, argue that socio economic factors will prevent learning, the “kids don’t care”, they don’t behave, administrators don’t get it. Blah. Blah. Blah. Instead of complaining step up and hold each other accountable—stop making excuses. I’m embarrassed to see some of these comments and pray students and parents aren’t reading this 😦

    • Wow. I found this to be so insulting and unprofessional.
      –Spent much time in teacher inservice? My guess is no. And if I’m wrong, I’d like to know just how enlightening you find it when someone drones on for 8 hours about something you already know/implement/understand.

      Not to mention if a student said this about a teacher’s classroom instruction he/she would be highly insulted.
      –If a teacher is doing ANY of those things, he/she has no right to feel insulted. If the shoe fits….

      If ALL students were reading at grade level and performing to the highest standards in service days wouldn’t be necessary…instead everyone wants to blame the parents, argue that socio economic factors will prevent learning, the “kids don’t care”, they don’t behave, administrators don’t get it.
      –REALLY? You’ve got to be kidding me. Parents have no accountability I suppose. Parents spend the first 5 years of the child’s life raising them and then they send them off to school and we’re supposed to do the rest? And kids who live in poverty, well, it’s all just made up gobbledy-gook that their home lives directly correlate to their performance in school. Ever heard of Ruby Payne’s research? And of COURSE kids care! Have you ever stood in front of a class of 25 16 year olds and tried to explain ANYTHING while they were on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other mind-sucking electronic universe that is on their phones? They’re rapt with attention, let me tell you. And if you think administrators “get it,” well, my dear you must be one of them. One of the ones who put in their minimum of three years in the classroom teaching an elective and sauntering into inservice days late with their coffee before they became a suddenly all-knowing god.

      Blah. Blah. Blah.
      –Your professionalism is shining through right here.

      Instead of complaining step up and hold each other accountable—stop making excuses.
      –To paraphrase the words of Jack Nicholson in his character from “A Few Good Men,” why don’t you “stand a post” in a classroom for a few years? Or just “say thank you and be on your way.”

      I’m embarrassed to see some of these comments and pray students and parents aren’t reading this 😦
      –I pray they ARE reading it. But more importantly, I pray that someone, someday, will actually value what we do as educators.

    • MsM says:

      Your comment has nothing to do with what was said here. The reason teachers hate inservice days, trainings and meetings is because we spend hours and hours at these things, and the majority of our time is not used well. Much of the time, lessons aren’t taught well, veteran teachers sit in the same trainings as novices, we hear the same thing over and over or the materials presented are useless or low-quality. Since our time isn’t used well and we frequently don’t learn much (if anything), inservice days usually do nothing (or next to nothing) to improve student achievement. What’s truly insulting is that districts still think this is “necessary”. Rather than berate teachers and complain, you could support them by challenging districts and site admins to be accountable to valuing teacher time and executing well-planned, differentiated and effective inservice days that actually help us become better teachers.

      • Eugene Williamson says:

        Well said. The fact is that we learn best from each other. If I were conducting an inservice that would be meaningful I would ask my teachers what topics they would like to address. Then I would try to group the responses in a way that made sense, look for someone on my staff who excels in those areas and ask several people to lead different sessions. Maybe run two half day sessions so that people could attend two presentations. Basically I guess I would try ANYTHING to avoid the standard inservice yawner.

  17. RonM says:

    Especially when you have to spend 2 days out of your precious Christmas break to attend some utterly stupid, silly, idiotic inservice. I remember one, the first day of the break, we were all sitting around completely burned out and exhausted from the first half of the year. Our inservice was led by some jabbering bimbo from up north, about…. (drum roll) Saxon Math. I still remember her giggling into the microphone about how “oh, my job is so much fun, I feel guilty when I get paid for it!!!” And she looked puzzled why we sat there rolling our eyes instead of breaking out in hilarity. Oh, what teachers must endure………

  18. Here is another great one There is an the emphasis on “time on task .” and content mastery at our school. We are checked during the school year to make sure that we are following pacing guides and allocated instructional time, including rapid transitions. Well, I guess what is good for the goose is not good for the gander.. It turns out that admin. wants us to wait 2 weeks to teach grade level curriculum until we’ve had the inservices and have completed baseline testing…. Insane.

  19. Carmen says:

    I taught for over 20 years and your post was so true! The “inservice trainings” have only gotten worse over years. No value, wasted time for veteran and young great teachers. Just a way to fill pockets of those who no longer want to teach or those who have an education degree, but are inadequate in a real classroom. It’s such ashame that teachers have to waste time on these. “In services” when they could be planning lessons for students and preparing a quality classroom environment! What a waste of time, money, and effort!

  20. Alea says:

    I hope you apply all of these same suggestions in your own classroom for your learners! Have you ever provided a session? Perhaps you should offer your talents….

  21. What do teacher want – Time in the classroom to prepare, Time to Collaborate. Oh, and if you are going to ‘teach’ us “new” teaching methods – then USE THEM. We don’t want to set through a conference being lectured about how we should get the students to engage when all you do is talk for 1 1/2 hours straight.

  22. Susan Jones says:

    I’ve have to LEAD those PD workshops and tried to explain all of the above to my bosses about what teachers really want. After all, I did teach for 26 years which means that I sat through 26 useless PD workshops. I think in the future that I should save this blog and instead of giving my company-approved PD PowerPoint/team training, I should just let each of the 8 points be a PowerPoint slide. When the group has had a chance to read all of the slides themselves, I’ll have them empty the binders in the nearest trashcan, and then ask them to get together in groups and discuss what works for them in the classroom or just have a conversation with another adult, grouse about whatever they need to, and discuss where to go to lunch so they can avoid the “box lunch” that was provided for their dining enjoyment.

  23. Mark Edwards says:

    The only thing worse than having to sit through a teacher inservice is being the invited presenter with an audience that is already mad and apathetic about the training before you start. I no longer accept those invitations.

  24. Anna K. says:

    This is so true. I remember several workshops that I honestly realized they were hours of my life I will never get back. Thanks for the laugh!

  25. Eugene Williamson says:

    I have been retired 15 years and the thought of the opening in-service still causes me to break out in a cold sweat. You know, it’s like that dream about the math midterm. You have not been to class, have not looked at the book, and don’t even know in what room the course is taught. I needed that time to get my room ready to meet kids, but the powers-that-be knew the room would be ready because I would work until midnight or on the weekend to make it so, and I always did. I found ways to get even with the system, but that would be the subject for a whole different blog.

  26. Ronnie says:

    I’m now retired and I am so happy that I don’t have to attend inservice! I remember my principal and I went to sleep during one of those “things” !! It was so funny! Sad, but that was one of the best ones I ever had.

  27. Jacob Truax says:

    Awesome; I feel the same way. In the last inservice I went to, they gave us the binder of doom that contained copies of the power points in class, and an eight-gig jump drive with the power points on it. Why did they bother with the binder, not to mention the ream of paper? Free jump drive, on the other hand? Amazing!

  28. kathy S says:

    I just want to know if all of us teachers know this, when do administrators (many who used to be teachers) forget this? It seems like receiving that admin. degree brainwashes them from all of the common sense stuff discussed when they were teachers. I am beginning my 25th year of inservices next week- what’s scheduled for this year? One entire day of going through the faculty BINDER (really?- nothing changed except 2012-13 was changed to 2013-14- on most of the pages), What we could do- learn about EdModo, Remind101, Next generation science. BUT NO collaboration allowed because admin things we will just goof off. UGH!

  29. I love this, but I’s also like to see what teachers WOULD like on inservice days. Maybe different sessions to choose from? Time to discuss with other teachers of the same grade what their plans are for the year? One school I was at had a comedian come in just before the catered lunch.

  30. Nancy says:

    I hate the “get to know me” where you tell some facts and a fib and the group tries to guess the fib. Or the one where you pick a song that represents you. I picked “I will survive” referring to these stupid in-services!
    How about having different sessions and let us pick what we think usefull. I worked at a KDG-12 arts school school and we had to sit thru much that was not pertinent to a majority.

  31. Shawna says:

    I try to actually get real work done during these in-service days… I bring my dayplanner and add in all events for the year. I map out my lists for the first few weeks. I come stocked with all sorts of things to do.
    I know it’s rude. I do feel a little bad about sitting there, ignoring what’s going on, and doing my own thing. BUT, I think it’s rude for districts to waste my time with crappy speakers and presenters.
    So, yes. I am “that person”.

  32. Micki Talcott says:

    I taught for 35 years, so I have been to many inservice meetings! The worst ones are the ones presented by the “head shed” administration who have not been in a classroom as an instructor for years, but profess to know what we need! My last 25 years were in a middle school where our principal realized how much time we needed to get our classroom and first week lessons completed before kids arrived. So any “necessary” inservice meetings were quick and basically as painless as possible…just to say we did them! We all appreciated the trust he had in us as professionals and he knew we would use the time well that he provided in the classroom for us. If more administrators (from the district offices) would give our principals more flexibility on how to use the inservice time to best meet the needs of his/her staff and students, there would be a whole lot more smiles from educators!!!

  33. I am a teacher in the Chicago Public School system. I LOVED this blog post! You certainly hit the nail on the head. I usually blog about the nonsense that goes on with the Chicago Board of Education and today was no exception. In my post today, I included a link to your post to share your thoughts with my readers too. I hope a lot of new ‘readers’ stop by your page.

  34. Anon. says:

    Part–only PART–of the reason I left education is because I felt so many people felt it important to waste my time. This is completely, totally true. I’ve sat through FOUR HOURS of one woman’s presentation of our performance on state standards. She read every last one to us and actually kept us late one afternoon. Talk about unhappy teachers…I think sometimes when folks get into admin, they forget that teachers aren’t that much different from students. We don’t need an in depth analysis of data. We need to know where to improve and how to improve, but ironically we don’t get that info. except in broad sweeping terms (ie Math didn’t make AYP this year).

  35. Love it all! Aren’t blogs the best? And freedom of speech!? You can say what you want and what you mean. People who agree with you will comment. And maybe someday soon an administrator will realize that they will be perceived as more valuable and even appreciated if they don’t torture the teachers before classes begin.
    (This year I’m attending a conference during the in-service meetings. Brilliant, no?)

  36. I cannot possibly state how utterly brilliant this post is. Every training day is the same, and I’ve identified with pretty much every single point you’ve made here… Fabulous!

  37. Too funny. I think your school district needs to hire you and perhaps you can make more useful use of everyone’s time, what do you think?

    • Janice says:

      I often wondered what kind of beverage was served at the “promotion ceremony” to change a teacher who loved colleagues and students into an administrator who doesn’t. Your delineation of the meetings we had certainly focuses on the problems. Meetings centered on drafting curriculum were my favorite–and held maybe every other year. My second favorite meetings occurred when we had intra-departmental discussions. Isn’t it amazing to realize that despite what we teachers face from our “superiors,” real education is accomplished.

Comments are closed.