I've been an educator for 21 years. The world has changed quite a bit in this time period - we have seen the emergence of the internet, mobile devices, Silicon Valley heating up the Bay Area housing market, and much more. When a person makes the choice to become an educator, s/he must understand that, no matter what, we will always be held to a higher standard.
Educators are lifelong learners. It is very rare that you teach 30 years one time; an effective teacher teaches one year 30 times, always seeking for improvement, better ideas, better methods. So the question is, how do we make time for professional development?
This question has haunted me. I once had a colleague that attended every conference known to man (ok, kind of an exaggeration), but there was never that next step - how do you implement what was learned? How can the learning improve the teaching and learning.
I've learned over the years that attending a conference, WASC accreditation, or visiting other institutions to learn best practices can be the most important professional development. It's wonderful when a school or district provides release days for teachers, and sometimes the "expert" really is next store. However, without branching out, we become stagnant.
Professional development really comes down to leadership and goals. I know as well as anybody else that we can manipulate data and information to make it look the way we want. But are we changing and improving our practice? Are we going against the grain, looking ahead, and TRULY preparing our students for the 21st century? Are our teachers and administrators prepared for the 21st century? We must make time for professional development - send teams of teachers to events with specific goals in mind and implement improvement to enhance the overall experience for everybody - especially our students.