i think that often in schools we deliberately make a decision not to just make chang s just for the sake of change. We don’t want to rock the boat and we know that the process of change can can be difficult, both for ourselves and the people around us. I do feel, however, there is something to be said for change for the sake of change.
This school year I switched to fifth grade after years in grade seven. There was no reason for it other than the fact I felt like I needed a change. It turns out that the move has been a great thing for me. It shook me up a little bit and forced me to do things differently. It allowed me to challenge myself.
We do this regularly in small ways in our classrooms. Today my students moved their desks around in the classroom. Was there any reason for this other than to give the students a change of scenery? Nope. Change for the sake of change.
A teacher that I greatly admire had been teaching fifth grade for a long time. One thing I admired about her was that every year she chose one area of her program to look at and change. She had a good program that she was happy with but she was constantly changing and trying to grow. I know that this is not exactly change for the sake of change but it was constant change and growth.
In the immortal words of Chuck Salina (or whoever he borrowed the phrase from), “Better green and growing than ripe and rotten”.
This week’s question is one that goes with yesterday’s blog post:
What would you do to improve professional development in our schools?
First, a disclaimer. This is not going to be a politically slanted post. The reason I put the “Does it Count” in the title is that three things have got me thinking about teacher professional development today. The first is provincial government’s decision to have more oversight of teacher Pro-D. I am not going to comment on how I feel about that decision right now, but it did get me thinking about what sorts of things that the government thinks would “count” as pro-d.
Some of the other things that got me thinking about professional development are things I can safely group together. Over Spring break, when parusing Twitter I came across the idea of coffeeEDU. ( coffeeEDU.org ). The idea is that teachers get together over coffee to discuss ideas and practice. That was followed a couple of days later by being invited to an Ignite Night in North Vancouver. For those of you who don’t know, an Ignite Night is an opportunity for teachers to meet at a restaurant and listen to other teachers present ideas that they are excited or passionate about. It was the last Ignite Night that I attended that inspired me to write this blog. The final item in this group of events that got me thinking about Pro-d was a conversation I had with Joy (since I have mentioned her I am sure to have more people view this post). She was talking about ways that our SEAs could find ways to collaborate and share ideas with each other. The thing that all of these things have in common is both their informal nature and how valuable they can be to teachers in growing their professional practice.
The final thing that got me thinking about Pro-d happened today. This weekend there is a Google Apps For Education Summit happening inVancouver that I wanted to attend but couldn’t. I was, however, able to learn from this conference by following Jodie Sussex and other attendees on Twitter as they attend the conference over the course of the day. Over the past year or so I have come to admire Jodie for the way she has embraced Twitter as a way to grow professionally and to share her learning with others.
I am not sure where the future of teacher professional development in B.C. is headed in the future, but what I do know is that theses opportunities for teachers to share their expertise and ideas with others is very important and effective Pro-d.
Over the past few weeks, my wife and I have been eating a very restrictive diet. While for the most part this hasn’t been too difficult for me, it has given us the opportunity to try a whole bunch of new foods. Most of it I have enjoyed. The other day, however, we really went out on a limb. We decided to try “Mac and Chreese”. Notice that I didn’t say “Mac and Cheese”. Now I am not exactly sure what Chreese is, but what I can tell you is that is isn’t good.
Later that night I decided to double down and try some non-dairy cheese like shreds on some tortilla chips. While it was better than the Chreese, it still wasn’t good.
The lesson I took from this? The reminder for me was to not try to not to be who you are not. If you are not cheese, don’t try to be cheese. As a teacher and as a person, it is important to know who you are and to be that. It is important to be self aware enough to not be who you aren’t. It is obvious to the people around you when you are not true to yourself. The flip of this is to be who you are. Again, it is obvious to the people around when you are authentic and act true to your real self.
One of my personal goals for this year has been to push myself to do things that make me just slightly uncomfortable. This blog is a good example of that. When I started writing, I was slightly uncomfortable putting my thoughts out there for the world to read. The more I have done it, the easier it has become.
Today, I am going to do something that doesn’t make me slightly uncomfortable. I am going to do something that makes me VERY uncomfortable. I am going to let you hear me sing. I am okay to sing songs with my class at school or to sing in Church because I am singing with someone. The thought of singing by myself in public sends me into a minor panic. That being said, I am going to follow my goal and do something that makes me quite uncomfortable.
Why am I doing this, you might ask? The reason is that, if you read the blog yesterday, I attended a Garage Band Workshop at the Apple Store last night. I had only just played around with Garage Band a little bit previously and this gave me the opportunity to learn more about it. What I discovered is that it is really easy to use. You can easily create a song that actually sounds like a song with little to know knowledge of how to play a musical instrument. The app does the work for you.
This morning, I decided to play around with Garage Band for about a half hour. I put together the music to Amazing Grace (One of my favourite songs ever) and thought I would just put it out there, sans lyrics, to show people how easy it was to put a song together. In the end, I decided to add the lyrics track to it as well. So, if you have made it this far, and actually want to subject yourself to it, click HERE to hear my Garage Band version of the first verse of Amazing Grace.
I am really excited. IC is taking over the Apple Store tonight. Five of us signed up for the Garage Band workshop that the Apple Store offers for free in the evenings. I am going to try to blog about our experience in real time as we go.
9:45- We are all ready to go and getting ready to learn
6:00 We have learned the drums. On to keyboarding. It is really difficult to hear, but are finding iris easy to catch on to.
6:15- Time for us to learn about the smart guitar. I love that you can make a song even if you can’t play an instrument.
6:20 A discovery! There are apps that work with garage band can be downloaded in the App Store!
6:30- We are learning how to record our voices over our songs.
I know I haven’t written a lot, but we had a great time and learned a lot.
I think that there is an important skill that I need to develop and I need your advice to help me do it. I need to develop a poker face. I think that all too often what I am feeling inside is written on my face. Particularly when I am upset or annoyed, no matter how hard I try, my face betrays me. I feel that as a teacher, but particularly as an administrator, I need to find a way to present a completely calm exterior when my interior feels like screaming.
I have been working on this for some time now with limited success. So I decided to put the problem out there and ask for advice. And how much more out there can you get than the internet? So please, if you would, what advice do you have for me to help me develop my poker face?