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Change Your Game

For years, professional development (PD) was something I had to drag myself to. It was mandated and usually kind of boring. In my second school it got a little better because most of the staff went to PD together. We got yummy lunch and got to bond as group. Now, I'm in my third school and in the next phase of my career. I have found the PD groove. The key it seems is to choose the PD you want to go to (as much as you can).  You can even organize PD's if you feel so motivated. Get involved in your own education and it will become something you look forward to rather than dread.

For me, the shift started when my friend Starr started taking me to PD's and pushing me to get more professionally involved. It started with an EdCamp (as I am writing this I am sitting at an EdCamp event). It was exciting to be in a space where everyone was excited to talk about pedagogy and was looking to better their practice. Before that, my colleague interactions at PD's  largely consisted of everyone sitting around complaining. And don't get me wrong, I did my fair share of complaining. But then I went to a PD where there was little complaining and more exploration of practice. And I loved it. I had a taste of something that was professionally delicious and I was hungry for more.
I've been attending a series of PD's with the NASA BEST program. On this day we were on the Intrepid. These are some of the "phones" I built with my team. Which do you think worked the best. I recently did this with my classes and they loved it!

 Over the past couple of years I have been snatching up PD. I have found that when I get to choose, I am excited to go and I leave feeling excited to be a teacher and to share what I have learned with my colleagues and students.  Math for America, NASA BEST, EdCamp, ECET2. These are just a few of the organizations that I am privileged to be a part of and participate in. They are just a small fraction of what is out there but they have all helped me to become excited again about what I do. Before becoming a part of these movements I was in a slump. They helped me shake it off and approach teaching with new eyes. They helped teach this old dog some new tricks.
Learning about EdCamp

In any job you get comfortable with the way you do things. When you have been taught a certain way, trained to teach in a certain way or have taught in a certain way for your entire career, it is difficult and scary to try new things. For much of my career, this was me. I worried about the test at the end of the year and making sure I had taught all I needed to have my students be successful on the test. So, I had found a way that worked for my students and myself that leaned more towards the traditional, and I stuck with it. Then I started going to PD's and it was like a whole new world of teaching opened up to me. It has left me reinvigorated for my career and has helped me to create a more engaging space for my students.
Sometimes you get to stay cool places like this for PD! Thanks EdCamp!

As educators, our best resource is each other. There are some brilliant folks out there doing amazing things in their classrooms. Those people can be in your building, in your state or across the country. But they are out there and it's not hard to find them using social media. Social Media is crawling with educators that want to share what they are doing. And when you go to PD's you get to meet and share with these folks that are changing the game. I have found that I always leave a PD with at least one new idea or contact that I can bring to my classroom. Since my season of the PD has started, I have become better. My classroom has become a place I am happy to share with others and a lab where I can do try new things.

It's always scary to take a risk but every time I have tried something new in my classroom it has been a success in one way or another. The lesson may flop but I learn something and I can make the experience better for my students next time. And I would never have taken those risks if I hadn't started sharing pedagogical practices with my colleagues. There is brilliance and inspiration out there. Don't wait for it to come to you. Find it. It's worth it. I promise.


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