Our district hosted Jenni Donohoo last week. Easily one of the best professional learning experiences we’ve had in awhile. Her presentation to about 200 educators was engaging, topical, entertaining, authentic, and motivational. One of our key takeaway thoughts was so simple and clear. As all good key takeaway thoughts should be. Jenni quoted the great Michael Fullan,
“Trust the people. Trust the process.”
As we continue to battle the beast of passive professional development, this phrase, this truth arms us with the correct frame of mind. As we said to our educators, “Everyone in this room has a college degree. Everyone in this room has a very good idea what she/he needs to learn more about to do a better job for more kids. It’s your job to professionally learn.” And we, the people responsible for removing obstacles and barriers to that professional learning need to believe bone deep that we are to Trust the people. Trust the process.
Jenni flat gave us an immediate experience to do just that. Trust the people. Trust the process. After our first session together, our educators had ‘team time.’ No directions for how to form teams, with whom to form teams, what to do in said teams. Just some suggestions for activities. Completely up to the educators.
So, there was some standing around. A little awkward time. We’ve done a great job in the past completely programming every minute at these kinds of gatherings. And then….people formed into groups. Had the conversations they needed to have. It was fantastic. Upon returning to Jenni’s final session, it was clear that the intensity, based upon the success and excitement from the team time, was ratcheted up over the first part of the presentation. We were invested. Our learning was deeper and more meaningful.
Kind of amazing what happens when one trusts the people and trusts the process.