This past Thursday, I had a social science curriculum team meeting. The 7th grade group that I’m a part of includes #worldgeochat members @ecasey77 and @le_reitz as well as two other teachers that I PLC with three times a week, and two other teachers from other schools in our district.
While in this meeting, I must confess, I broke norms to share this picture of Ed Casey with my fellow worldgeochat moderators.
The look on Ed’s face wasn’t one of total joy. Ed responded that he was just frustrated that we had little to show for three hours of work.
Pete replied back in the DM group with this:
“Ed, you’re being redundant.We already know you’re at a PD meeting….”
And I realized that Pete had hit on something. Far too often, we attend professional development or other meeting and feel like it was a total waste of time. That nothing had really gotten done, or what had been done wouldn’t really change anything. I’m sure every teacher has felt this.
But here’s the thing… it doesn’t have to be like that! And this meeting WASN’T! Though we had little to show for three hours of work at the time I snapped that picture, what we did have was amazing conversations about what was working so far this year (we are piloting a new curriculum) and what wasn’t. No, the things on our task sheet weren’t getting done in record time, but the conversations were making us all better teachers.
Based on conversations I’ve had with other teachers, most seem to each what Pete suggested – that PD and meetings are a waste. So I spent time trying to figure out what made our group one that walked away at 3:00 wishing we had more time. This is what I’ve come up with so far.
We’re there because we want to be. No one forced us to be a part of this team. Everyone who is in this meeting is there because they want to be a part of a team that is pushing our curriculum to the next level. We are a true PLN, and that matters.
We have an honest environment. We have built up enough trust to be honest about what we’re doing – good and bad. Just like in worldgeochat, we ask questions to gain understanding and push ourselves to be better.
It’s about the students. This is a norm that gets put up at every meeting in our district. But it’s also the easiest norm to ignore. Too many teachers look at what is easiest or best for them, and forget that the students are our number one stakeholder. We remind ourselves of this frequently, and none of us would consider a classroom where we push our knowledge on the students to be ideal. We want and demand our students to discover knowledge!
Innovative and experimental. We are willing to try something new each and everyday. We’re not afraid to fail because failing is a part of all learning, and we are learning what to do to make our curriculum the best it can be!
What are your favorite meetings or professional development sessions? What are the tricks to making them such a positive experience? Comment or follow up on Twitter!
And as always, join #worldgeochat on Tuesdays to be a part of another great session of professional development!