Pondering PD

This is the third draft of my ponderings on professional development and I hope that I do not sound as cranky as the original. I've decided to go with a bullet like format because I really am not trying to make a point, but to reach out to others with my wonderings and get some feedback (push back?). Bear with me!

Lots of feedback lately about how PD sessions are engaging and "lots learned" but how do we know if it really impacted classroom practice and therefore students. Finding it harder and harder to get districts to commit to long term PD with coaching in order to make that happen due to the "time" factor. What is the tipping point?

Special area teachers - encore teachers - teachers in non-core content areas (or whatever the PC term is in your district) provide feedback that they would like more PD on topics relevant to their content area. How are folks handling this one?How do those content areas "fit" into the larger district work?

Seems like districts are suffering from "initiative overload" from the teacher perspective. I am fairly certain that the administration does have a big picture in mind but it never seems to be shared with the teachers. How do we help them with that? Should we be making that clear if they are not?

Wondering if we really see ourselves as learners on professional development days? I started a recent session with teachers reflecting on their students and learning and then made the connection to their learning for the day. Many seemed surprised that would be the focus. Are we so busy with accountability and mandates that we have forgotten our true purpose?

Help me out - before I burn out!

Photo credits: All photos from Flickr (dominoes, puzzle, transparency, reflection, extinguish)

Blogging the October 2008 DATAG Meeting

I wrote about the meeting last year here.

This year's meeting has the largest attendence ever at a DATAG regular meeting. That's a whole lot of data heads in the same room. I was tweeting some of David's comments for those following back in Buffalo but it's hard to take what David Abrams says and filter it down to 140 characters. My tweets were:

*Achievement is up in English statewide, except in Grade 8.

*n from 3-8 assessments - 1,200,000 students in ny. Thought it was higher

*"dis-intuitive" new word - describing the role of new language acquisition and NYSESLAT assessment. David has hit his verbal stride.

*"we are persistent because we're New Yorkers. And we're loud."

*12 minutes ago from web what happens when you change standards and implement new exams? Bigger bump at year 2 than expected.(math)

*David just reeled off about 10 different statistics about schools in ny. Sexy.

"degenerative rhetoric" - describing mathematics as a mastery skill

*FYI - David began his presentation by saying he isn't talking to be understood, he expects some won't understand him. "Deal with it."

*NY is one of the most tightly coupled states around testing. Arizona is at the other end of that spectrum.

I think he shared something very important about Algebra but I'll have to listen to the recording to figure it out. If David were hooked up to an MRI machince while talking, I imagine it would look like fireworks at Disney World. In the space of two minutes, he gave a commentary on Pie Charts, an anecdote about students graduating early from High School and comments about the rules of large numbers. He added a quick aside about the fact that someone people wouldn't come back next year because of him and shrugged, pretty much saying "this is the system. If you want to be a part of it, learn how it works".

His PowerPoint is below. I'll figure out a wy to post the audio later.


I think that the title of this post sums up how everyone is feeling lately. Educators are wondering what "school" will look like in the future and everyone is wondering what our finances/lifestyles/government is going to look like tomorrow. It is a crazy and amazing time to be alive.

I miss my social studies class with everything that is going on in the world right now. The teachable moments, the opportunities to push student thinking and the possibilities are endless right now. I keep trying to pump up the teachers around me to discuss these things in class, but at times it seems like we try to insulate our kids while they are in school.

I've also been in faculty rooms lately where I have heard teachers say they aren't intending to vote - that their vote doesn't matter - that everyone knows how the election is going to turn out anyway. (Do we? I mean really - have people not learned anything from the past?)

I'm not trying to espouse any political viewpoint here - just encourage everyone to be active citizens this November. And this video just summed it all up for me...pass it along to five friends!