I have been considering a number of topics for my dissertation which I will be writing over the next year or so. I have a serious interest in the role professional development, opportunities to attend and present at professional conferences, and opportunities to collaborate with teachers from other districts has on young teachers' attitudes, innovation and ultimately retention both in a district as well as retention in the profession of teaching. When budgets get tight, more often than not, professional development and professional travel are often the first things in a budget to get cut. This is true even when there are staff which are no longer needed and could be reduced or staff that should be pressured/coached to improve or hang it up. We are a people profession and as such try to keep people we no longer need because we feel this is the right thing to do. We don't want to lose our young teachers. We don't want those we feel are already grossly under compensated to have to work even harder for the same amount of money. We don't feel there is enough of each of us to go around and the concept of working smarter or differently rather than just doing the same things with fewer people is not normal educational thinking.
I am the product of my professional experiences. I not only invested in my own professional growth, but was fortunate to work for districts that also invested in me. I have had opportunities to attend professional conferences both as a participant as well as those times I presented at them. I believe this is what enabled me to feel confident enough to try new things and assume leadership roles in each of the schools I have worked.
I think student achievement gains are positively impacted by the enthusiastic and innovative teachers in the building and to have those, continued investments must be made in professional development through opportunities to attend professional conferences.