Wednesday, February 2, 2011

PD Follies - part three. Guess my age.

Professional Development Follies - part three.

Professional Development is one of those things that light up the stress meters in almost every teacher I've ever known. Bill Ferriter talks about it. So does Mr. Teachbad. Darren needed Google Translate to interpret the Educationese. What's my excuse? I have many things that trigger me and get my back up. Treating the faculty like ...

You're in Third Grade.
Actually, I'm not. I'm a teacher and have been one since before we found out that George Orwell's book was not dated correctly. I'm getting old and crotchety, too, in case no one noticed. (No!)

Treat teachers as adults, please.

I don't think it cute, informative, helpful, or intelligent to hand every one a candy bar and sort us by the type of candy bar. ("Gasp, how clever") . I don't really care if you want us to sit randomly to break up cliques or friends. Those groups aren't why I'm here. Accept who I am sitting with and get on with it.

I'm here to learn something.  
  1. Lose the CUTE. 
    1. It's early, I'm anticipating being annoyed and YOU just confirmed it. 
    2. Speak in your adult voice. Talk with us as peers, not to us as twelve-year-olds. 
  2. I'm not here to vote by placing stickers on an easel pad. If the people in the room can't handle a show of hands, they shouldn't be teaching actual teenagers. Stickers to vote with ... don't go there. Try something radical: ask us. If you are worried that this might be too controversial, ask us ahead of time.
  3. I don't want a gold star, a free pen or a happy message acted out by the helpers.  
  4. I don't want to form a line holding hands and count out loud every other one.
  5. I don't want a condescending twit telling me "Good Job getting to your groups so fast." 
  6. If you make me do role-play, I will, to the best of my ability, imitate a real student with all of the real or imagined resistances I can think of - your too-clever-for-words gambit will go up in smoke.
  7. Do not place a pile of toys on the table and ask each of us to choose one, then explain how that toy exemplifies our approach to teaching. I can tell what's coming and I will choose wisely and sarcastically. Your pathetic attempt to imitate the Rorschach Test is just that. 
  8. I'm not asking permission to go to the bathroom.
  9. I want something I can take away from all this, even if it's just a handbook.
We're all walking around with at least a master's degree and most of us have seen this new idea before. Treat us like the mature adults we are and we'll help you through anything that goes wrong. We'll go easy on you and forgive the graphs that are missing axis labels, or the grammatical mistakes in the PP slide. If your phone rings, answer it. We'll keep ourselves busy for the two minutes it takes you to apologize and and talk to your wife.

Piss us off and we'll be irritated and irritating all day. I'll point out that your brand spanking new idea is just like that one we heard about in professional development 18 years ago. I can usually even find the paperwork that went with it.

I'll ask for the supporting research and for actual names and links so we can read it, too. When you show me THAT GRAPH, I'll ask you for the details. "What's the vertical axis? How was it measured? Is this in a demographic similar to that we have here? What was the demographic?" I can even sound sincere and interested when, in fact, I'm ridiculing you.

And one other thing. I CAN read, you know. I don't need or want you to do it for me.

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