Professional Development – The Misunderstood Asset | Print |
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What does it cost to attend a conference or a trade show? What does it cost NOT to attend a conference or trade show?  

In tough economic times, when public organizations like school districts start cutting costs, one of the first budget areas to get hacked is travel and professional development. In this feature, we will discuss three focus areas to help you relate the importance of Professional Development for yourself and your school or organization to your superiors so that your development continues. Continuous learning for staff is critical to personal and organizational success as well as student success, regardless of whether the person learning is a teacher, administrator or support personnel.

1.       Affect on the Organization

2.       Affect on the Individual

3.       Affect on Students


When you are planning to attend a trade show, conference, or a seminar, join a professional organization, or develop your own local professional development exercise, always make sure that you keep the goals and objectives of the organization at the forefront of your thought process. It doesn’t make sense to attend an event that doesn’t offer educational opportunities for you or your colleagues that are not aligned with your organization’s intended outcomes. It is much easier to justify spending $1000.00 of public money on a conference when you can clearly show how you will take the knowledge learned and apply it in your school or office and in concert with your organization’s mission or vision.


After you have attended a Professional Development activity, make sure that you use what you learned. You may not be able to implement learned knowledge right away, but you can plant the seeds and start the process of expanding that knowledge and sharing your ideas so that one day you will be able to implement strategies that will benefit the organization and the students.

If you can implement something right it! Don’t wait or procrastinate. If you learned where the best place is to buy some badly needed resources is and you have the budget, start the ball rolling to get those resources into your classroom or warehouse. If you learned the benefits of a Purchasing Card program, talk to your superior immediately and explain those benefits. If you learned a new teaching strategy, start teaching it right away.

Remember that you attended the Professional Development activity because it was aligned with your organization’s objectives. So get cracking!

Successful implementation of learned knowledge will not only benefit the organization and the students, it will benefit you as a valued employee both materially and intrinsically.


The bottom line in school districts is student learning and success. Professional Development must have some positive impact on students. As a teacher, you should be able to prove through student success that the knowledge you gained in your professional development activity directly affected student learning in a positive manner.

As a buyer or other person responsible for product specification, development or evaluation, you  must be able to demonstrate how a product that you discovered at a trade show, or a supplier relationship you developed through knowledge gained at a seminar, or a procedure you implemented as a result of something you learned at a conference ensured that the students in your District did not lose valuable learning time because they didn’t have the required resources to successfully complete the teacher’s lesson as planned. 

Success stories like Purchasing Card programs, electronic purchasing systems, product knowledge and supplier development are all direct results of professional development. Teaching and learning outcomes resulting in positive student learning are also results of continuous professional development, research and study.

To deprive an employee of valuable professional development time is mismanagement of District resources and assets and should be discouraged at every opportunity because the loss of the knowledge asset will directly result in a weaker employee, organization and essentially student learning. 

James Dobbin is President of The Classroom Solution, Inc. As a Certified Public Purchasing Officer with 35 years in purchasing and supply, the most recent 23 years in the K-12 environment, James brings a wealth of knowledge to schools and teachers needing assistance in making school purchasing decisions. Understanding that teachers spend a considerable amount of their own time and money buying resources for their classrooms, James created with the desire to reach out to and help as many teachers as possible to find simple and cost effective buying solutions to help enhance the learning experience in their classrooms.


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