Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

A Teacher or an Educator?

I hope that I am an educator and not a teacher.
Let me go back a few steps.This past week I watched a very good friend of mine give her first TEDx talk on her experiences throwing out grades (and she rocked it!). This event also featured several student speakers.All the students were fantastic – well spoken, poised and passionate in their delivery. They had a lot of great things to say but two of those things stood out for me.One student talked about the experiences of students working hard to create projects that only the teacher sees.This has sparked in me a tiny revolution but I am going to go into that further in another post.This post focuses on the talk of a young man named Timmy, a senior in high school, who counted off the number of teachers he’d had over the years that he considered educators and not just teachers. As he went on to elaborate about what made a teacher an educator, I just kept thinking, “I wonder if he would call me an educator and not a teacher”.
What makes s…

Creating Opportunities

No matter how hard I work, I am never going to get a promotion. I will never get a bonus. If I want a promotion I have to go back to school (even though I am already 30 credits beyond my master's) and take a job that is no longer in a classroom. Working directly with students is why I got into teaching and I'm not ready to leave that behind. So, according to the definition, I am in a dead end job. I can work my butt off, create fantabulous lessons, give all I have to my students and next year be in the same position making essentially the same money.

Every four or five years I have a teaching crisis of faith. I question what I am doing and why. I think about the other things I could be doing with my life (though as I get older some of those other options are becoming much less likely - I don't think NASA wants to send me to space or that my career as a rock star is going to take off). This most recent crisis was the "I will never get promoted" crisis. Right now, …

Musings about Rubrics

If you are reading this you probably know what a rubric is. If you don't, here's the quick and dirty. A rubric is a grading guide that is available to students. It tells them how their work is going to be evaluated and allows them to evaluate themselves. Rubrics can take many forms. Here is one I recently used with my students:

In our school, as of this year, we grade on mastery grading system. There are 4 "grades" a student can get: Mastery with Excellence = you understand it so well you can teach it to others Mastery = you get it exactly as well as you should Approaching Mastery = you are almost at mastery but not quite there Not Yet Mastered = New to a skill or no where near mastering it
Now, I don't know if this is the case with all mastery schools, but in our school we are all about the rubric. Not only are there project rubrics (which I have always had a hate hate relationship with) but we also have unit rubrics.  There are rubrics for standards and rubrics for…