Slice of Life 14: A Rainy Saturday – No Problem!
By Janice Ewing
It’s a very rainy Saturday morning in the Philadelphia area. Not a problem. Everyone seems to be saying some version of “After all that snow, I don’t mind rain.” I’m right there with them. I can handle rain, especially when it that brings a hint of spring temperatures and new growth. Anyway, I have indoor plans today. I’m going to a local meeting of the Keystone State Reading Association (KSRA) at the home of one of the regional directors. She has lured us with the promise of brunch and collegial conversation. That’s a winning combination.
When I hear teachers talk about professional learning or development with sighs of resignation or cynical expressions, I feel sad, both for them and for our profession. On the one hand, I understand their negativity. Many have sat through countless presentations that didn’t pertain to them or their students, focused solely on testing logistics (sometimes directed at teachers who were not even administering that particular test), consisted of someone reading from a powerpoint, and on and on. On the other hand, I have had the pleasure of participating in much enriching and relevant professional learning, and hope that I have also made a contribution as a facilitator. So, when I hear the negative comments or see it in body language, I wonder if these teachers have never experienced the joy of true professional learning and collegial sharing. The kind that brings you out on a rainy Saturday morning. Bring on the coffee and the conversation.
* This “Slice of Life” post is part of a larger blog series, hosted by the blog site, Two Writing Teachers: A Meeting Place for a World of Reflective Writers.
Janice Ewing is an adjunct for Cabrini College and a co-director for the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project. Janice co-facilitates PAWLP’s “Continuity Days” and this blog. She is an avid reader and writer, and especially enjoys writing poems.
Janice, my name is Breanna I am currently a Middle Grades Prep junior at West Chester University. Rainy days are the best to sit and ponder the questions of life. I understand where you are coming from with the negative attitudes that some of the teachers are presenting with. I have been on the other side I and understand why people get the negative attitude but as a presenter it is very exciting and just want people to stay positive. Even if something seems irrelevant it should still be taken with an open mind because there may just be the one instant where something that a person thought was irrelevant came in handy. You could also say that relates to everyday life.
It sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Today I spent time meeting and talking with colleagues from the Columbus Area Writing Project. I always leave those meetings feeling energized. Now that I am providing PD for teachers in my building, I always wonder if they are dreading our meetings. I try to be cognizant of providing experiences that will pertain to their interests and needs. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Janice, it sounds like it was a wonderful way to spend your day! I often find it frustrating to hear others complain about professional development (or sometimes, even all pedagogy/methods courses). I always try to go into any professional development experience with an open mind and ask myself what I can take away from this particular experience – and really, most cases, isn’t there always something useful to take away? I feel very fortunate, too, to have had a supportive network of teachers who are interested in thinking not just about content, but also about instruction – especially since you can’t really be effective without attention to both. Sadly, I do think there are probably teachers out there who aren’t interested in professional development, for one reason or another – there is so much to always learn!
Janice, professional development comes in different shapes and forms. Fortunately, there are many networks that support collegial conversation and growth as an educator. For me, the Philadelphia Reading Council was my source of enriching learning experiences and exposure to literacy initiatives at a time when the district offered very little. Today, I attended the University of Delaware’s Educational Technology Conference. The rainy day didn’t dampen the spirit of teachers sharing ways to optimize learning for their students.
Hope you had a wonderful conversation! I think this sounds like a wonderful way to spend a rainy Saturday. A colleague and I attended a local council event about new books and received some free samples!
Janice, like many others I have definitely experiences some truly lame, irrelevant professional development. However, I still try to stay positive. My district tires its best to offer relevant and meaningful professional development. Over the years they have development yearly PD that is catered to what we feel our needs are. We are now at a point where we are bale to chose from over 50 PD sessions offering a variety of training on a variety of topics. This past one, I was please to go away with a lot of meaningful material that I could implement within my own classroom the very next day or week.