changing professional development

For me, the term “professional development” conjures up images of sitting in a stale library, watching PowerPoint slides as I perfect the art of cartoon-making. I hate spending an hour and a half every week listening to things that feel irrelevant to my vocation as a teacher. With that in mind, I approached my principal and asked if I could teach an alternative professional development course that runs during our typical staff development/professional development weekly meeting.

I teach a new technology skill each week and we discuss the pros and cons and potential applications in the classroom setting. It’s fairly simple, but the dialogue has been great. The long-term project is a portfolio and plan for technology integration. I’m hoping that this group of eight teachers will serve as the catalyst toward a technology-integrated school.

It seems to me that the teachers enjoy the weekly meetings, even if we are all tired when we arrive. It feels more like a community exploring a new frontier rather than a group of people assembled together to read expert PowerPoint slides while they silently perform tiny acts of rebellion. It makes me wonder what would happen if we completely changed our paradigm of professional development toward something more democratic, more cooperative, more human.

John Spencer

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.

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