One of my goals for the year was to make professional development a day that teachers looked forward to, rather than the same old day of dread. Today was a day that took over five hours of planning. The planning included reading the books Teach Like a Pirate and Digital Leadership, along with the Daily Five. We watched inspirational speakers, such as, Dave Burgess, Simon Sinek, Principal El, Steve Jobs, and Dr. Jonathan Tarte. We had three different Google Hangout sessions, reading, planning, and preparing to implement a dramatic shift in professional development. Today we decided to model what that would look like. We used music, food, graphic organizers, chart paper, and a guest appearance by a pirate, to let the teachers know that professional development would not be the same. As the teachers worked in groups, preparing for their share back, we stole a technique from Top Chef, and with five minutes to go, we challenged them to implement a motivational “hook” into their share back lesson. We heard conversation, focused around better instruction, meeting the needs of students, and how they could utilize these new skills tomorrow. More importantly, the teachers were observed laughing, joking, and using their creativity the way we hoped they would. For the two hours, instead of just discussing differentiated instruction, the teachers engaged in beginning to build something bigger…a professional learning community.
Our quasi unpaid professional development team, that has spent countless hours shifting the last two professional development days, were even offered the possibility of financial compensation in the future. However, the quick response was “we don’t want to get paid because it would change everything. Although it is a lot of time and effort, it is worth it.”