Monday, January 31, 2011

PD Follies - part one, the Blind.

Professional Development Follies - part one.

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. Here, over the next couple of days, are some of those triggers.

The Blind Leading the Blind.
When I went to get my commercial driver's license many years ago, I was faced with a guy who drove these vehicles every day. He knew the ins and outs, knew the laws, knew what was important and what had to be memorized for the test and then filed away. An expert who was teaching? How quaint.

How many times have I been in the room and the HIP, Highly Ineffective Principal, (thanks for reminding me, Richochet!) or an AP would get up and present as definitive fact a half-remembered workshop from the summer?

Too many times.

The more it was stressed that we were a "High School on the Move," the more stressed I got. With every new and improved "Best Practice," I wondered why no one, apparently, had never thought of this obviously brilliant idea before ... and then after maybe two seconds of thought, realized that it was pretty much what everybody tended to do anyway.

"We need to create A School Within a School."
"According to the Latest Brain-Based Research, students need to write about their feelings."
"I want all of the teachers to begin differentiating all classes with respect to the three Learning Styles."
"We're buying netbooks for each fifth grader because Maine did it and had the biggest gains in state history."

Before we should implement something, shouldn't there be at least one person who completely understands it? Perhaps we should rename this one as the "As Seen on TV" Initiative because it looks cool and shiny, no one understands it fully, it costs a lot (plus shipping and handling) and invariably doesn't work. Any of you suggesting we call it the "iRenew Initiative" can be quiet back there.

I'm not getting behind this nebulously defined initiative until someone clears it up and explains it. "You're being obstinate because you don't want to be a team player. You argue about every initiative."

Sorry. Got to do better than that. Argument by Accusation - not valid.

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