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. This is a brilliant post and exactly on point. I am a former teacher. I gave it up as I just could not stand exactly this kind of foolishness any longer! My 15 year goes to the school where I was last teaching and I see that this year they are having what is called “embedded time inservices”. The school day will increase by 8 minutes so that once per month the students will be dismissed 90 minutes early. The teachers will then engage in “professional development”. I really want to know exactly what is taking place in this 90 minutes. The handout that came home explaining all of this had a lot of of acronyms that looked very official touting the importance of professional development on the learning outcomes of the student blah blah blah. What a JOKE!.
    Thanks for posting!

    • Patrick says:

      We have done this for years, and call it “professional learning communities”. It is just enough time each month to not quite get into what they think we should do, and spend most of the time rehashing and going over norms and protocol and recording stuff in a document to prove we met. Never really get to talk about the students because of the red tape and documentation.

    • Marsha says:

      I could use that 90 minutes a month for gathering and organizing all the ‘task based projects’ we are now doing. Sure would free up time on the weekends for grading and filling out all the forms required!

  2. midya says:

    i love the fact that administrators who think they are so wise by dividing students into various groups, e.g. by age, so they can learn buy into group sessions like this and treat teachers as if they were all alike.

  3. Patty says:

    I have to plan workshops and we try to do as much technology as possible. Seems many want training for the iPad. It’s hard to plan when you are dealing with a whole faculty not knowing how much they already know. Suggestions welcome.

    • Chris says:

      Ask the teachers what they want and need. You don’t have to guess if you just ask them. You are certainly on the right path by not getting defensive about this article. You are open minded about what can be offered, and that’s a big plus in my book!

      • Patty says:

        Thanks! I didn’t take offense to the blog post…it was nice to hear the perspective of probably many educators. We get so many that are negative and never offer suggestions….just sit back and roll their eyes and not give any feedback. I’m an educator. Have been for 20 years. Now I’m asked to train teachers and I like their input. Sarcasm doesn’t sit well with me like when one on here told me it was called differentiated instruction. I’m an intervention specialist and a gifted coordinator so I’m WELL aware of the concept. I just wanted some input from all of you.

    • Hello, could you send out a survey on SurveyMonkey before hand? If you don’t need to know too far ahead of time and are trying to be funny, you could do a clicker activity for all to take part in after the stale breakfast provided by so-and-so group. 😉 Add some funny responses for some to “click” on to get the point across…if someone clicks on “I know enough that I could facilitate an iPad training” have that person do so! (You can see the clicker number so there’s no hiding; LOL). If you don’t have clickers, use the app where they can use their cell phones as clickers. Now you are modeling several technology pieces that can be utilized in teachers’ classrooms too! 🙂 Just my off the cuff ideas. :)- Jaime

      • If teachers need to learn how to do several things (like new teachers and PO’s, substitutes, completing attendance, etc, you can MAKE QAR codes at various stations around the building and have them work with their mentor or “buddy” teacher and “race”around the building learning how to do various housekeeping items AND snapping pics with of QAR codes with their ipad (be sure to have them DL a QAR reader app before hand). 🙂 Again, just my off the cuff 2 cents. I am very passionate about PD and teacher learning and I DO NOT like to waste their (our) time so I try very hard to find different ways to provide learning for educators like myself… I hope at least one of these ideas is helpful for your tech training or another training down the road. 🙂 -Jaime

      • Patty says:

        Thanks Jaime. I’ve used Survey Monkey and this would be good to do before the inservice date.

      • Patty says:

        I’m WELL aware of what differentiated instruction is Sherry. I just wanted thoughts on some possible apps teachers would like. But thanks for the sarcasm.

      • Patty says:

        Thanks Katie. I do use Survey Monkey and can send a survey out before the inservice day so I can better prepare. Thanks!

    • Jennifer says:

      I’d recommend holding different trainings at different levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Nothing is worse than being a technologically-proficient teacher who has to sit twiddling her thumbs while the presenter helps the two or three newbies who don’t understand ANYTHING. It is a truly wasted experience for those of us who know the basics. If this isn’t a viable option for your situation, frankly, if one or two people are stopping the group from making any progress, ask them to stay after so you can work with them. OR, tell them that someone on their “team” can teach it to them later. Lord knows we have to go to enough PLC, department meetings, “team” meetings, grade-level meetings etc. and are always scrambling to come up with things to discuss then. I hope this was helpful!

  4. voscerote says:

    I think the district-level middlemen are behind all these nonsense activities at meetings. They basically ruin the job of education.

  5. OMG! So true! I am going into my 8th year as a teacher and every year it’s the same. In fact all next week I have to go to training. Thank goodness for smart phones that keep us entertained during such times.

    • Ben says:

      I wish…we were told this year that we could not use our cell phones in meetings anymore and we could also not bring anything to grade or work on or etc. because we needed to pay attention during the entire meeting.

  6. Sue Parler says:

    What I find most intriguing is for a community that completely understands the value of differentiated instruction and personalized learning, why are PD plans completely devoid of those practices?

  7. One of the most ironic PD workshops I ever went to was on “engaging instruction” and it was the most boring presentation I ever witnessed! The presenter didn’t have PPT, a binder, or any technology whatsoever…just lectured. I left the workshop in the middle and never returned.

  8. I substitute taught for awhile. I could tolerate the antics of the ill-behaved student (almost) daily, but the Admin folk?
    P.S. I had more to say, but you would have deleted my post. 😉
    You told it as it is. I commend you. Take this gold star and move to the fromt of the class. Oh, and drop that danged folder in the trash can! We have the past 15 years emblazoned across our frontal cortex!

  9. Carrie K says:

    I had to do Kagen last year where I got stuck at a table with all secondary teachers who could not understand why kindergarten special Ed students could not do these activities… What a waste of a week! Somehow it is even worse when the administrators are standing there having to give an inservice where they say central office is making us do this which is crazy but here goes.

  10. Celia says:

    Well, this teacher is a statistician by training, and being given “statistics” just makes my heart beat a little faster. I also love tearing apart everyone else’s analyses. But I realize this is a sick fascination of mine. 😉

  11. Amanda says:

    As a music teacher I was always most bored with the stats on last years tests. None of the info ever applied to me since they don’t test the arts. Wouldn’t it be better for each department to look at their own stats together? My favorite was the time a few of us electives teachers got together and found something worthwhile we could be doing while everyone else learned about this new way to access test scores, and the administration said that everyone had to stay and learn it. We kept track of every piece of useful information we received. Guess what? Nothing. Telling the occasional anecdote that just happens to include the word music does not mean your presentation relevant to me.

  12. Heather says:

    I just presented two days of professional development (International Baccalaureate related) to an amazing group of teachers. I am happy to say, that I didn’t do any of the things you mentioned, and the productivity level was higher than I could have ever dreamed of!! I was there to facilitate, not give answers and rob them of the chance of reaching their capacity! The collaboration and sense of team was evident, and deepened through their meaningful accomplishments.

  13. Thanks for this insightful post. Corporate training nonsense like this is a total waste of time, especially when dealing with people who know exactly what it is they have to do in the classroom to get things done in the first place.

  14. Janet Rodman says:

    This is so true. You need to include hearing the same thing every year because you have been teaching in that school for years.

  15. Julie Hill says:

    I have read this so many times and I can’t stop laughing! They are all hilarious, but number five has me really busting a gut! Thank you!

  16. JustinP says:

    Admission: I’m not an educator. This type of time-wasting nonsense only exists in bureaucratic organizations, or which public education is one. When I, working in the private sector, find this in a company I work for, I leave. This type of rote repetition of the same material denotes a lack of a sense of urgency for the mission of the organization and a disconnect from reality (what are we here for? what’s our purpose?). In short, it means the organization engaged in this is dying. As a result, I immediately leave that organization.

    As for the Patty above who mentions that many teachers want iPad training — that statement, I don’t understand. The iPad is a toy and one of the most simple devices ever dumped on the consumer market. My 3 y/o knows how to use it without training.

    I’ve heard this same statement from many teachers (I need iPad training)…guess what…there’s this thing called the Internet, and as educators, I would think you would know how to educate yourself.

    • Sue Parler says:

      Generally, they do not want training on how to use the iPad. They want training on how to successfully integrate the learning tool known as an iPad into their curriculum to improve learner outcomes.

      Generally, we know how to use the toy. Level 260 in Candy Crush Saga 😉

  17. Shireen Coleman says:

    Well I certainly don’t have all the answers but as an administrator I agree with most of the comments. So, three years ago I started the year out with a teacher retreat. We meet at a local bed and breakfast where we laugh, talk and have fun together. Yes, we have fun and there is plenty of good “collaboration” . On the second day of the retreat we plan the school calendar together. When we leave we are refreshed and ready for the task at hand. I hope that as an administrator I can always remember what is was like being a teacher. Everyone have a great school year.

  18. MommaH says:

    Year 35 ( and my last) begins on Monday and you just described to a ‘T’ a compilation of the last 34 years opening day in-services! Thanks for making me smile:)

  19. Patrick says:

    This is one of the best things I have ever read before starting back! Thank you for articulating what I think EVERY YEAR! I spend the first 2 days back in meetings wanting to be in my room setting up, then get a half day to set up (i.e. shove everything in cupboards) before open house, THEN 2 days to tear that facade apart in order to actually set it up for the year.

  20. Amen on the PowerPoint readings! Or any other reading! My goodness. I despise being read to — unless it’s by my children. Congrats on the FP, and thank you for doing the most important job in the world!

  21. Donald says:

    This is what I’ve said for years. In-services stressing English or reading skills…..FOR MUSIC TEACHERS???? Mission statements would be good…if anyone wanted to listen to the actual teaching staff. The last one I did…we were in groups- my group’s answer was radical and hit home to where we wanted the school to go- and it was rejected by many including admin.

  22. Mrs. S. says:

    Love this! Thanks for the laughter! Teacher are back Monday, Aug 5th. Hopefully I won’t find myself breaking out in snickers or laughter as I remember this post! 🙂

  23. Alex Jones says:

    I have attended these sort of things in the financial industry, it is a rubbish corporate that has spread everywhere like a bad cold.

  24. One of the people who now “presents” for my county used to be across the hall from me and asked my advice on how to deal with one of his students. I was the Special Education teacher and this student has presenting some difficult behaviors in class. The “now presenter” had a masking tape box surrounding the student’s desk (he was not to leave his box during the lesson) and a strip of velcro with frowny-faces on it. This teacher is now doing presentations on positive classroom environments!

  25. ENID SHAMES says:

    0h dear!!!!!!! i consider myself an excellent teacher——-my students loved
    learning!!!!!! And i’m glad i retired before “they” ruined my ability to teach!!!!!

  26. a feldman says:

    I will be eternally grateful to you for validating my own beliefs…no, “set of known fact”. You have a new best friend! Now, for those of us who cannot yet say “former”, how to deal with it all.

  27. John H says:

    PD should have the goal of making us better smarter teachers, or at least feel like we are.. Instead, the message is always that teaching is a boring and fun free activity and that I’m too stupid to do it right, despite an IQ of 145 and 20 plus years in the business, As one sage once told me, “II love teaching, it’s education I hate.”.

  28. Ella Aubin says:

    Teachers, you are fantastic people! FYI, tips for surviving in-service … edit the binder-bound presentation, handouts, and papers, make a copy, and handed them back to the presenters with note it was copied and sent to Administration/Press/parents.

  29. In thirty plus years of teaching I have done my share of inservice work. In fact I was the inservice coordinator for a year. It was a thankless job. No one likes inservice no matter how many bells and whistles you throw in. The problem is everyone wants to decorate their rooms, work on lesson plans and get social with their teams. The problem is that it is mandatory and since education is constantly changing it is necessary to keep current.

  30. There’s a lot of truth here. Good for this principal to read at this time of year. When I was a teacher, I sometimes had to leave for a few minutes so I wouldn’t blow up. Even as a principal I sometimes pace the back of the room during required “sit and get” training. My teachers would rather use their time planning instruction together so we build a lot of time in for that. Teachers bond around their passion for teaching and learning if given the time and resources. We should let teachers be more in charge of their professional learning. The state requires some PD topics be covered but we do those quickly and concisely.

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