Two Letters: PD

Education, not unlike the military, runs on acronyms.  To the outsider, walking through a group of teachers can be a mystifying experience as they talk about RTI and BIPs, ESLs and ELLs, LEAs and BOEs, not to mention IEPs and 504s, although that last one isn’t actually a acronym.  But you get the point.

While many acronyms carry some emotional weight, there are few that are as polarizing and opinion-generating as these two letters:

PD             Yep, professional development.  More specifically, teacher PD. 

Professional development, in my experience, is something for which everyone recognizes the need.  That said, it’s best when the teacher being professionally developed has an interest in the material or experience being presented.  If it’s their idea…great. If not, well, let’s just say it’s a genre of online comedy in and of itself.

If you’re reading this, it means you’re connected to the internet.  Go ahead, open a new tab and do a quick image search for “Teacher PD meme.”  After you get it out of your system, come back. I’ll wait.

It’s a totally different experience, though, if you’re the person responsible for providing the PD instead of receiving it.  I am, on occasion, just such a person, and today was a day in which I was to conduct just such a session.

As it turned out, earlier this week, my PD day took an interesting twist before it even started.  The memo came out with the first draft of a school-wide schedule for class and club pictures. The first of many drafts, some sent out throughout the day itself.  To use the vernacular, OMG.

For better or worse, earlier this week, I had nearly finished my preparations for what was to be a fairly structured day.  Presentations were started, articles were selected for copying, highlighters were placed at the ready: I was nearly good to go.

Now, with only four people from three different grade levels scheduled to attend my session, this wasn’t looking like a good day.  And, indeed, had I stuck to my original plan, I don’t believe it would have been, given that one or more of the four teachers was almost always out of the room.

Instead (and this turned out pretty cool), I decided to present the teachers with a menu of sorts.  A menu of choices that could be accomplished individually. A menu that allowed the teachers to decide what needed to be done and learned during the day, with me there to assist and instruct as needed.  

You know, I don’t think it would have worked with a larger group–there’s only so much of me to go around–but today it was good.  My goal with PD is to conduct a session that doesn’t inspire a meme, and by all accounts that goal was met.

On top of it all, we got to eat lunch at a real restaurant without a student in sight.  Bonus.

The day is over and I’m sitting here, still in the classroom, drinking coffee and writing this narrative.  I’m already planning how to conduct my next PD. Will it have a lot of structure? Probably not.

10 thoughts on “Two Letters: PD”

  1. The images that popped up when searching “Teacher PD meme” cracked me up! Very true! So glad you gave choice in your PD. I find I get more from my students when given choice. Same with teachers too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some of them are a little coarse, but most of them are absolutely funny. We like choice, but it takes a lot more effort to pull off. That said, it’s certainly worth it!


  2. As someone who also tries to plan PDs that don’t inspire a meme (although I’ve never thought of it that way, that’s a pretty hilarious way to describe it) good for you for thinking on your feet and making it work!!!! I bet the teachers loved it! Good job!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So great to have been flexible, even though you had a plan in place. I’m sure it was much more effective to have the teachers self-select. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this. It’s hard to plan PD that challenges, inspires and doesn’t inspire a meme (that’s so funny!). I love that you were flexible and modeled a way to do that for students. And eating lunch at a real restaurant like a grown-up is never a small thing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I try to follow the golden rule of PD: do unto others as you would like inflicted upon you. One of the best sessions I helped with this year was “play time” which allowed the teachers to fiddle around with digital tools as they needed. The feedback was great. Chocolate from their principal helped too.

    Liked by 1 person

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