Cave Dwellers See Sun! Professional Development
Several Cave Dwellers came out of their caves yesterday and in a “Professional Rounds” atmosphere went back to elementary school, all the way to First Grade! As they sat (uncomfortably in tiny chairs) and watched the students interact in groups, and how the teachers collaborate as subjects and topics changed, several began to see the benefit and blessings of sharing their crayons.
One group sat in amazement as first graders went up to the Promethium Board, turned it on and set-up the day’s lesson. Amazed because more than a few of these cave dwellers have the same boards in their classrooms that they are using as projection screens because they do not know how to use them.
Unfortunately the above is not a work of fiction. I don’t know where the inherent dislike of technological change comes from in many teachers but it is sort of like the fear of losing one’s job. The idea that technology might replace them, is the same fear that ran through the educational world years ago like montezuma’s revenge when the VHS player was first introduced. God help us, all kids will have to do is turn on a video and learn everything! Duh!
After returning from some professional development a few years ago two colleagues of mine were anxious to share with the faculty several new approaches to a particular teaching methodology they were sure everyone would want to employ in their classrooms. They had attended this training over spring break so the faculty meeting they were to present their findings to (the reason these two were chosen for the school district to send them to this training was their promise to return and to teach the masses) was the faculty meeting right after the break. Of course due to spring sports the coaches and assistant coaches could not attend faculty meetings and the time allotted for their presentation had to be reduced because of all the information about Prom and Graduation, and cleaning out classrooms that had to be discussed, so their time was reduced to 10 minutes. 10 minutes. The district might as well have taken the $1500 they invested in this “Professional Development” and thrown it out the window.
These cave dwellers who watched in amazement as first graders did what they could not do on those electronic boards, had received a 2 hour professional development class on the Promethium Boards the summer before they were purchased. Again the district might as well have thrown that money out the window for all the good it did. Professional Development/Training does not work unless there is a hands-on application that is relevant to that teacher. Don’t make me attend PD on Promethium Boards if I am not getting one. Don’t send teachers to PD somewhere with the hope that they will spread the “good news” and convert everyone when they return. Does not work. In those places and in those schools that this has worked I applaud you — and I’d like proof because I hesitate to believe that sending one member or two from a faculty with the hopes that they will return and give birth to all they learned and present it to the faculty in the same measure is hard to believe. It is just a cost cutting, self serving, method of “checking off” that block of required training at the district level.
To get the job done right you’ve got to do it yourself — right? Same thing applies to PD: To assure PD works and is done right you’ve got to do the PD yourself. There has to be a transition from the PD into the classroom.