How to Get Administrators to Say Yes to PD

As an art teacher, you undoubtedly want new teaching tools and new ideas for your classroom. You want new learning experiences for yourself and your students. Where is the best place to find those things? Art-specific professional development, of course.

Unfortunately, administrators don’t always share your excitement for PD outside of what your school offers. That’s difficult if you have your eye on a specific course or a conference, especially if those opportunities will help you meet some of your own teaching goals.

But even if the decision-making is out of your hands, there are still ways to help things go your way.

Below is a plan to help you get your administrators to say yes to supporting your professional development.

Show What You’ve Learned at Previous PD

Heidi's process board

Administrators want to know that the professional development they are providing for you is worthwhile. If you can show them the work you’ve created in a course, or lessons you have developed from your learning, they will be more likely to say yes to future learning. A process board, like the one seen above by course participant, Heidi Kniseley, is a great way to help your administrators visualize your learning.

Clearly State Why You Want (or Need) the PD

It can be difficult to effectively communicate why you want to attend a conference, or why you need to take a course. But if you can clearly and succinctly show the benefits–a list of ways a conference can benefit you, for example–your administrator will be more receptive to your plans and more willing to give you the go-ahead.

Tie Your Learning into Your School’s Objectives

books, apple, and pencil

Your school will, of course, have some kind of directive to be implemented or a school-wide goal they are working toward. Maybe it has to do with literacy, or math, or even student behavior. No matter the case, there is likely a connection to be made with art. The more you can tie the investment in your learning into the wider goals of the school, the easier it will be for your administrator to say yes.

Come Back with an Action Plan (and Implement It!)

Along with the idea of effectively communicating your reasons for wanting to go, you should also communicate what you will do with your newfound knowledge. Create an action plan you can share with your administrator. Will you bring new lessons to your students? Will you try some new assessments? Can you implement more effective classroom management strategies? Have a clear idea of your takeaways, and make sure they make it back into your classroom.

PD group

Make it Easy for Your Administrator

Your administrator may love the idea of you participating in more PD. But if their approval is contingent on them finding those opportunities for you, it may be a nonstarter. So, do the research and find some options for them. And don’t just show them what’s out there–tell them why it will be good for you and your students. It isn’t just about the PD–it is what you gain from the PD!

As a teacher, and as a professional, you want to improve what you do in your classroom. When you put all of these ideas in this list together, you will have a lot of opportunities made available to you. Whether it is an online conference, a graduate course, or ongoing on-demand PD, there are plenty of ways for you to continue your growth.

What are your favorite types of PD opportunities?

Do you have any tips for communicating with your administrators about PD?

Timothy Bogatz

Tim is a high school teacher from Omaha, NE. His teaching and writing focus on the development of creativity, problem-solving, and higher-order thinking skills.

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  • Mr. Post

    My strategy for dealing with administrators when I need something has worked like this-

    First I do all of the leg work that the project, idea or PD requires. Then when when I approach the administrator all that I need is a “Yes” and the project is ready to roll.

    Sometimes this means paperwork, filling out forms at the board office or online etc.

    The other thing I do before I propose my idea to the administration is to wait until right after I have done something for them. So just after they thank me for whatever task I did for them, that’s when I pop the question about “Hey can we do this? All I need is your approval and a little bit of money and the project is ready to go.” It’s harder for them to say no after you have just made them look good doing whatever they tasked you with.

    Sure it’s a little sneaky, but you gotta spend your political capital right when you get it before they forget how wonderful you are and why they should support you.

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