30 July 2005

It's Sad When PD Starts to Invade Your Dreams

Teachers have school dreams/nightmares. It's part of the gig. I have asked people in other professions (like my dentist) if they have sleeptime explorations of job-related issues. So far, they all seem to do just that. The brain is a wondrous thing.

So, in the wee hours of the morning today, I was dreaming about doing professional development with teachers. This is a first for me...and seeing as I will be leaving on holiday later today, I hope it's the last one for awhile. :)

In the first dream I had, there was a bonfire. The idea was for teachers to burn all of the "bad" stuff that they had in their files. All of the things that weren't aligned to the standards...or were based on "poor" models of teaching...were to be turned to ash. This would then allow us all to start over with what we do in the classroom. Now that I think about it in the cold light of day, it was really more of a nightmare than a dream. Most teachers (including me) are involved in a co-dependent relationship with their file cabinet---and with good reason. But I think the problem my brain was picking at was "How do you get teachers to change what they do in the classroom?"

My second dream was much nicer. It was not more realistic, but perhaps it had a better take on the problem-of-the-night. I remembered that the most likely way to effect this sort of change is to provide individual teachers with evidence. There should be data available to show student performance before and after new practices are put in place. Most of the rest of my dream was about determining the type of data to choose and how to get it into the hands of teachers. I woke up with these thoughts on my mind. I didn't reach any particular resolution with them yet. But I think that I would like to. It may be very important to do so.

In a couple of weeks, I will be meeting with the district Data Queen. I think I will ask her about the measurement aspect to things: what is most meaningful to track and the best way to do that. Maybe I can pilot something this year. I haven't a clue what it would look like. It would be nice to think that there's some way to roll a professional study group, action research, PTL, job-embedded staff development, and other items into one package.

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