24 May 2008

Radio Silence

Things have been quiet here at Ye Olde Blog the past few days. I've been swamped with work and other issues that are taking up a great deal of time and energy. Lots of blogging material, and very little headspace. Radio silence may continue a bit over the weekend.

I was notified this week that I was selected to present at our state's "Summer Institute." I proposed a session on standards-based grading and motivation and made the cut. Looking at the list of presenters and sessions, I feel honored to be included. I have a couple more conference proposals floating around---both for national level gigs. I don't expect to be invited to either, but I am definitely of a mind that "If you you don't ask, you don't get." As I think about starting up a small consultancy business, I know that I need to get out there and show a bit of what I can do.

I'm pretty darned good in the classroom. Seventeen years of opportunities have honed my skills. I feel like I know what I'm doing (and what I should be doing) and can put together a dynamic learning environment for kids. But what I've learned about myself in the last few years is that I'm really good at working with teachers. I feel like this is an art form in its own right, because we are not easy people to deal with in groups. I know how to read the crowd...I know when to push and when to let them range a bit with ideas. I can make adult learning meaningful, not insulting. I can get teachers energized and happy that they came to a professional development session. And what's more is simply that I really enjoy doing this kind of work. We'll see where it all leads.

I'm going to spend some of my Memorial Day holiday getting my plan together. I won't present until the end of July, but if I want my handouts copied for free and brought to the conference for me, I only have two weeks to put them together. I'm thinking about ways to include web 2.0 tools within my presentation. They won't be the focus, of course, but considering that we have internet access and many will have laptops, why not make this workshop something which can live on through a wiki or GoogleDocs? Part of my proposal is to have participants create or adapt grading tools to make them more standards-based. How cool would it be to be able to upload items at that time so that everyone could access them later?

I asked for a 3-hour block of time. I know from my experience presenting at WERA this spring that 75 minutes is barely enough time to have the background conversations. I couldn't imagine doing a workshop in 90 minutes (which was another option). We all need some time to think and more intensive opportunities. But it does mean a significant investment of planning time on my part. My first Boss Lady used to remind us that highly effective professional development requires an 8-to-1 ratio of planning-to-execution. So, at least 24 hours of preparation on my part will be involved.

Guess I'd better get to work.


Michaele Sommerville said...

I've been busy busy busy too- there's nothing but crickets chirping at my blog this week- but for good reasons: my husband's graduation from the Academy, daughter's last band concerts and pool parties, our toddler's birthday, and friends dropping by left and right to say "Happy Trails" before moving to their next duty station.

I've often toyed with the idea of Early Childhood/Kindergarten Classroom consultations- but figure I need to get my master's and teach at a university somewhere.

Sounds like a wonderful presentation! Enjoy yourself- and thank you for keeping us engaged!

Roger Sweeny said...

I can make adult learning meaningful, not insulting. I can get teachers energized and happy that they came to a professional development session.

Then you truly are a goddess.

The Science Goddess said...

LOL I should probably qualify that to say that while my aim is for 100% of the people to feel that way, not 100% might at the end of the day.

I did get some comments from my session yesterday that it was the best experience they had had in the last several years. This was after lots of grumbling comments as teachers arrived about how much they hate inservice days and tiring it is. They left with smiles (after 4 hours in my charge) and I'll take that kind of feedback any day.

Michaele Sommerville said...

GREAT job!

I'll admit, I'm wondering if School District #4 is going to offer dreadful inservices. I'll find out the end of July!

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Congrats on the comments! Anyone who has read your blog would know that you're a unique voice well worth listening to.

And not that anyone listens to me (except USA Today, who gets it wrong), but I'd be glad to give you a testimonial anytime!