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)


Kimberly said...

Holy cats T. Gray, I just struggled with posting my thoughts about PD today and then I land in your blog and realize we are definitely on the same wavelength this week.

You know what the problem is with professional development from the presenter/planner/administrator's point of view? There's no stinkin' immediate gratification. It's like your exercise program that you know you should be on your whole life so that all I do in my forties might buy me another couple of years in my eighties. Cripe. I'm too much of a fast food get it now big mac and fries girl for that much long term wait time.

Seriously, I won't be able to tell for months if what we're planting today and tomorrow takes hold. I'm doing the coaching thing, participating as a learner, and I can visit the classrooms to see it in action (or not). What do you get? You leave and don't even get to know what difference you made!

I know you're making a huge difference because I know how heavily we rely on you--how well received you are each and every time. But this PD gig is not for the faint of heart. Give me some building level problems to solve, some disgruntled parent I can listen to, it's much easier!

Theresa G said...

Funny though - I whine and complain in the name of pondering and then I go back after a long weekend and here is what greets me:
1. A second grade teacher who invites me back into her class to help coach her students in writing.
2. A fifth grade teacher who comes to me on advice for a "write your own DBQ" project with her kids that we craft together in 20 minutes while she eats lunch.
3. A living environment teacher who shares a resource with me because I "always willingly share what I have"
4. A first grade teacher who comes to ask me to help her with centers as she pilots a new reading series
5. Four, count them - four teachers who were NOT in my PD session last week who ask how it went and if I shared anything different from last year they could have.
I am still pondering all the things I posted and many, many more but today was absolutely worth it!
(Oh - and did I mention the assistant superintendent I admire finally talking about blogging again? Where is that post Kim?)

Anonymous said...

PDs are a breath of fresh air, no doubt. But then there is the implementation - its nearly impossible to revisit that fresh air when you are facing new technology (smartboards), parent-portal, tech-paths, thoughtful education, oh yeah... and the day to day planning, teaching, grading, contacting of parents, meetings, and let's not forget the hours spent at the copier too. You do a great job - thanks. But it's the administrators with the 'big picture' and no value of what they have that sends the smog into the air and leaves most of us overwhelmed, underappreciated, and totally frustrated.