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.