#sol18- September 25, 2018
I am a firm believer in timing- there is a right time for everything (well, almost everything). We are in our eighth full week of school and honestly, I am feeling a bit ready for a break- not that I don’t love my job, but I can almost feel my energy reserves diminishing day by day.
Then along comes this week- Monday and Tuesday have been days off for the students and full days of PD for teachers. It is hard to get whole group PD “just right” Everybody will have different needs, background knowledge, etc. I am in my first year at this new school so I may have anticipated the days a little differently than colleagues who have experienced PD here before. When I heard it was focusing on inquiry I was hooked- this is my first year back in a PYP school and I figured it would give me a better handle on what inquiry should look like here. I also heard that our principal has known the presenter, Kimberly Mitchell, for a long time and that they had worked together to make sure the two days would be a good lead up to our team-level goal setting that will occur on Wednesday at our staff meeting.
So, here’s what I loved…
Honesty– She told us when what she said was based on first-hand experience, research, or experiences with adult learners. She did not try to sound like the know all/be all expert.
Planned– I LOVE agendas for PD because I can keep track of what is coming and when and although we did not always stick strictly to it, having one helped me be better focused.
Balance-Sure there were ideas I had heard before, but because we were trying out new things too it never felt like “been there, done that”.
Time– We had time to practice with many of the structures she was teaching us about. We had time to reflect on how we could use what we were learning. On Day 1 in the afternoon, she sent us away for an hour. Our assignment? “Do whatever you need to do to stay present.” Afterwards, a few of us shared out what we had done- ranging from exercising to classroom work to whatever. On Day 2 we had a large chunk of time (a total of 2 1/2 hours) to work with our teams on whatever felt useful to us. Before we went to a break we had to devise an agenda and inform Kimberly what we might need from her. As it turns out we were so amazingly productive in this time that we really got our whole agenda accomplished while still managing to have fun and a few off-topic discussions and extensions. It felt so great that we had time to work how we wanted on something that we could immediately see value in and our team was all pretty proud of our focus.
Respect- we were given lots of time and did not feel like we were being watched- we were respected and treated like professionals we are- something I do not always think is transmitted in every school.
Looking at Kimberly’s website while writing this it is so clear that what we experienced were what she describes as“the backbone of our work.” We had time to “get personal” and I definitely feel like I got to know my teammates and other colleagues better. We were challenged to “stay curious” as we devised our own next steps. Kimberly modeled “ask more; talk less” as we worked- her visit to our team was less than two minutes and did not interrupt our flow. “encourage evidence” will come into play more tomorrow as we refine our team goal so that we can measure our success, but we also filled out several reflections that helped us define our own needs. The value of “extend thinking time” was so clear when we looked back at what we had accomplished. Early on in her workshop Kimberly reminded us of Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve– now our mission is to fight that by using this PD to make a real change.
So being the “PD junkie” that I am this two-day change of “routine” was just the boost I needed to get through the two weeks before our October break with renewed energy.
Slice from a former student.