Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An honest look at ourselves

I just read a very interesting post by Scott Mcleod about a workshop that didn't go as planned.
His ending words were...

Name the problem. Own it. Apologize. Try to fix it, both for them and for next time.That’s all I know to do, along with an overall insistence on high-quality work and continual improvement. But, as always, I’ll take any and all suggestions. What do you do when your workshop isn’t awesome?

Read the rest of his post here

This got me thinking...As an educational leader we often are expected to know what needs to happen. Teachers see us as outsiders who have left the classroom and now have all the answers.  If they believe that is our task, then their ears begin to close and the defenses and the excuses begin.

I attended two conferences this summer.
One was hosted in our district and I was on the planning committee, the other was out of state and I was a pretty green participant.
Both were focused on a different type of teaching, one that provided more opportunities for student involvement and achievement.
There was a marked difference in the two conferences.

The one we hosted had imported experts to show us what we needed to do differently. These experts were successful in their teaching styles. They were dynamic and they were knowledgable. The conference was well received. Staff members responded favorably and the grad homework that I checked showed they 'got' it!  But, it was a pretty one sided dialogue. The experts knew and we
learned.  I am not sure what the lasting change will be.

The second felt like we were all invited to the same table. There were some who had been sitting at the table longer and so they were sharing what had worked and what hadn't.  But, we were all there at table - ok it wasn't a table, but you get what I am saying!
The undercurrent of that conference was RELATIONSHIPS! We need to change the way we have been delivering content, not because it was bad, not because we were failing, but because we were missing out on the  opportunity of creating relationships with our students with that teaching style.

I think in these two examples lies some of the failure of Professional Learning.

I've been teaching for 25 years. I know in my gut what my students need. I know that some of it works and some of it doesn't.  So, when someone starts to tell me about change - I need to see the big picture and I need to be invited to the conversation.  I need to be applauded for what I have been doing and listened to when I have concerns about how this really looks in my classroom.

PL is successful when the person in front...names the problem...owns it...apologizes if necessary and we all work together to try to fix it.

I know that isn't what Scott was talking about - but for me it is the real problem.  Teachers are tired of being told what they are doing is wrong or being made to feel are just too lazy or busy or tired to change. They already know it!  They feel it.

Instead, I think many want a relationship with their peers and their leaders and they want to create a different future for their students - TOGETHER.

Now...I don't know exactly how that works.

BUt this great post by Edna Sackson gives some concrete ideas.

One that I think is really important is home grown PD.  We did that a few years back. It was one of the scariest experiences for the presenters and one of the most successful for our whole district!   Seek out those in our own midst that are getting it and have them share.

So thanks to Scott Mcleod for starting my thoughts and for being honest.

What do the rest of you think?

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