Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Professional Learning

Professional Learning is something we have all participated in at some point during our educational careers. Unfortunately, it is usually associated with a dreadful experience for anyone who has to attend. Some teachers save their sick time so they do not have to attend these sessions. Others bring something else to do during that time: grade papers, read a book, check their phone, or doodle on the agenda given when one enters the space. Learning is actually the furthest thing on the minds of the people in the crowd.

Why is this? Why do most educators dread attending what is suppose to help them improve? Usually, it is because the topics are not relevant. It is apparent that the topic for this "day of learning" is just something that must be completed. It is in no way going to help us improve as teachers. It is just something that needs to be done so someone higher up can check off that their district covered this topic. It is quite obvious that there will not be an opportunity to have any follow up at a later time. The attendees never feel connected to what is being discussed, so there is minimal learning actually going on.

I always kept the above scenario in mind when I planned sessions where I was presenting something to my colleagues. I understood that they wanted to leave a session with something they can use the very next day. They want something tangible. They want to be able to work through a process, scenario, or new technology that will ultimately better them as educators. They want interaction. They want to discuss the topic with the people around them. Share ideas. Question. Think. Share.

The funny thing is, I wonder how many of these teachers allow their students to learn the same way. How many of them give their students time to work through something before grading it? Do they get a chance to talk through a process. Share with others in the class? Present alternate ways of solving the problem? Learn from a group instead of just the person standing in front of the group?

Yes, I am being a little facetious, but I do not think I am that far off. I have learned over the years that leading teachers through a process is very similar to leading students through a new topic; both want time to work through the kinks. Both want a chance to talk with others, either to check what they have done, or learn from someone else. Lastly, both want to know that they will get a chance to redo something if they find themselves struggling.

In closing, I guess I just find it interesting both teachers and students learn similarly, only the latter group usually gets graded on something shortly after learning it.

Thank you for giving me time to work through this. I have been thinking about this for a while. Please feel free to leave a comment...