changing professional development

Paul the Pre-industrial Poet warns me at the beginning of my pencil journey, "Once people reallize that you you are able to use pencils for learning, they will latch onto you.  They will want you to teach workshops."

"Workshops, ooh, that sounds fun.  Is it something where each person creates something."  

"No, it's basically a time when people sit around an Edison Projector and watch people read PowerSlides.  It can be painful, Tom."  

"Well, that doesn't seem too bad."  

"No, but if you're not careful, too many people start defining your job.  You do trainings and workshops and write a few articles and you lose sight of your own students.  It happened to me. Finally, one teacher came to me and said, 'I think I'm all developed now. I'm overdeveloped. Like a flash that's too bright, I'm a picture that is losing any kind of contour and texture.' And he was right. We didn't need more development or training.  We needed wisdom."  

He's right.  I typically use professional development time to draw pictures, play Buzzword Bingo and make snide remarks to Mr. Brown.   

So, we talk about an organic approach to professional development.  What would it mean to find a more natural method of acquiring wisdom?  What do teachers really need?  More importantly, what do students really need?  

I'm beginning a new professional development series at my school and 
  • From assessing teachers to assessing student learning.  I want to see how the students are using pencils (as opposed to a teacher standing before an Edison Projector and talking to the class)
  • From viewing educational theory and pencil use in two different contexts to seeing the overlap between the two
  • From pre-planning the training sessions in advance to empowering the teachers to make their own decisions
  • From a focus on motivation to a focus on self-efficacy.  What I've found is that teachers want to use pencils, but they believe that they cannot do it. 
  • From viewing pencils in a neutral framework to viewing it in light of the political and social reality we experience with William McKinley's Caravan to the Top initiative.
  • From viewing pencil literacy as a skillset to viewing it as the ability to analyze, assess and apply pencil to complex problems
  • From an authoritative, hierarchical approach to shared roles with each of us using our own expertise
  • From isolated workshops to a semester-long journey
  • From one-size-fits-all to differentiation - We will begin with a small group and then these teachers will help with the future training (I hate that term) sessions in the future
  • From passively learning to actively creating - We will work together to create something shared (a unit) and each teacher will have their own reflective piece (perhaps a plog?) 
What this means is that I will work with a group of six other teachers on a shared pencil integrated unit.  I began with a survey to help create the initial framework.  It's been difficult to avoid over-planning, but I'm thinking it will work well. 

1 comment:

  1. Overdeveloped. I really enjoyed reading that paragraph and immediately forwarded it to of our building mentors whom I know well and whom plans PD for us.

    I think that really sums it up. I can have thousands of strategies, attend hours of PD, go to conferences, and listen but none of it is any good unless someone can come into my classroom and watch me teach with pencils. Or I can go to someone else's classroom and watch them teach with pencils.

    I need the wisdom!!!

    Well done.