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Saturday, September 20, 2014

PD's Illusions

I've looked at PD from Both Sides Now.  From up and down and still somehow.  It's PD's illusions I recall.  I really don't know PD at all...

I had an opportunity to vote against PD last June.  I did.  I lost.  I lost time with my students and I gained the opportunity to OD on PD.  I might pick up a few meaningful ideas along the way.  Let me not be overly pessimistic or close-minded.  I once enjoyed a group work lesson on teaching the DBQ essay through the help of a bunch of highlighters and several pages of handouts.  I'd have to think carefully before using part of my teachers' choice on highlighters though.  I need board markers more.  

From a practically utilitarian standpoint, PD outcomes rarely, if ever, merit the time spent.   I'm still growing in my profession, but not primarily through PD.  I find the implications of so much PD in our new contract somewhat insulting.  It seemingly implies teachers are struggling.  I would willingly deed over all and any PD to ed. "reformers."  Then, they might learn about age-appropriate learning, "differentiation," how to awake and sustain a child's desire to learn and how to meet children where they are--rather than shoot above their heads and watch the fallout.

I'm sure PD looks different in different schools.  I'm sure it looks very different from department to department.  In my department, PD has come to mean puzzling over the 9-12 NY State Common-Core aligned framework and trying to press on with even more test-based uniformity.   The new framework jumbles up topics from their previous order and adds an overriding focus on trade networks.  The original idea seemed to be that we would rewrite our old framework during PD, realign it with the State's latest dictates and put ourselves in a position to teach to the new test which we all know our students will not stand a prayer to pass if the Common-Core-aligned Algebra Regents is any indication of things to come.  The only problem is that it seems we should be paid at the rate of $42.82 per hour for writing curriculum.  I don't doubt some would do it for free if it could only relieve them from the more mind-numbing PD.  

On a lighter note, here are some of the handouts I found most meaningful from PD in ages long past--when I was once the new kid on the block.  I picked this up at a conference in Brooklyn, I think, probably twenty years ago.  

Hint:  #1 is Sandbox.  (I have four more of these pages.  When I was a new teacher I used them with the kids when blizzards reduced our ranks.)  In case you're having trouble, here's an easier one.  Add a few dollar signs and you can't possibly miss it:  


The two pages above show initial drafts of Franklin Roosevelt's a "Day of Infamy" speech.  It's way cool.  The suggestion was to show students there is no shame in editing there their work.  Even the cream of the crop do it!  If I saved a handout, it indicates the PD had at least some value, I think.

This page is not from PD, but given to me on an average day by a colleague.  I get some of the best stuff when I'm least expecting it.  Who knows, but some of it may even be tailored specifically for the Common Core!

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