A new PD! Professional Driven!

Saw this on twitter earlier.

The chart I saw on twitter.

This chart grabbed my attention.  It felt a lot like what I think is the difference between ‘Professional Development’ and ‘Professional Learning’.  Wrote about that notion before

Well I looked for the source of this great chart.  Found out about Jarod Bormann.  He wrote a book called, Professionally Driven: Empower Every Educator To Redefine PD.  

Jarod’s awesome book!

I’ve had strong reactions to books before.  This was different.  I swear I just got this book today.  Yet…many, if not most, of the ideas had been banging around in my mind, in my words, ideas, and statements since I took my new gig 4 years ago.   Executive Director of Teaching-Learning-Innovation.  Jarod’s story of mind numbing PD sessions is my story.  And like Jarod, I’m a role to do something about it.  His book, which I highly recommend, makes the case unequivocally.  Here are a few of my favorite ideas from his book:

  • Educational leaders have to walk the talk. Don’t talk to me about innovation, risk-taking, collaboration, connectedness, and creativity if the professional development you provide models none of this.
  • This BIG question created such an intense energy within me: What about them?
  • We need to quit viewing the teacher as the fire that is last to receive the water and the expert as the original source of knowledge that we must pay to dip our buckets into. As William Butler Yeats has been famously quoted, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” We have extinguished so many learning fires within teachers for so long that there isn’t a single hot coal left to stoke a spark. Moreover, the idea that “teachers don’t know what they don’t know” implies that teachers cannot be trusted to discover for themselves what it is they don’t know, or worse yet, that teachers are not even capable of it. This type of thinking is simply incorrect and toxic for a school’s culture.
  • I’m not sure when, but at some point professional development became primarily training, and districts began to expect educators to do learning on their own time. And if they chose not to (probably because they are trying to deal with all of the responsibilities that come along with teaching, as well as the training that has been bestowed upon them), they are quickly labeled as a “lazy” educator. I said this in the previous chapter, but I feel it’s worth mentioning again here: forcing teachers to learn on their own time should not be some kind of test to determine the “motivated” teachers from the “lazy” ones. This is no different than using the idea of homework in the same fashion and then giving kids the same labels.

Just a few of the ideas that hit me between the eyes.  I’m pretty proud and convinced that we are on our way to doing a better job with professional learning.  We have proof.  Our teachers identify needs, wishes, and books to read, study, and act upon.  We buy the books and facilitate.  One example, the great book Conscious Discipline, by Dr. Becky Bailey, was selected by the teachers at our primary school.  We bought the books and ran the book study.  Then the teachers, the following year, continued on their own. Then the following year, they continued the learning and reading on their own.  Then teachers at one of our other elementary schools wanted to do some reading, thinking, and learning from the book. So we did it again.  Then another elementary school.

Are we perfect?  Nope.  Do we still have sit and get, professional development kind of activities.  Yeah….. but fewer of them.  There are still ‘trainings’ that happen.  But we are 100% dedicated to teacher originated, ongoing, professional learning.

As I said, reading this book was like watching a movie of my recent thinking.  If one checks out my twitter feed…the pinned tweet, for the last couple of years is the WB Yeats quote Jarod referenced!

Thanks to my new PLN colleague and WB Yeats!

Nostalgia still isn’t a strategy.

Bought another Hacking book. This one is Hacking Instructional Design: 33 Extraordinary Ways to Create a Contemporary Curriculum by Michael Fisher and Elizabeth Fisher.

The preface, yes, the preface, has a series of stone cold factual statements that need to be read, said, and understood.  Here’s one, “The way we’ve always done it has run its course. When we think about how we are going to prepare our children for life after school, nostalgia is no longer on the table. We need to focus on the things that matter to the student, the student’s world, and how the world will receive this student into its global citizenry.”

Nostalgia is no longer on the table…

I’ve written before about this notion of nostalgia. Actually, almost a year ago to the day!  And here it is again.  “…nostalgia is no longer on the table.”  I still agree.  And yet, I wonder what one year has done?

Here’s another doozy. “Students are thirsty for investigating what matters to them. We must give them that chance. Our current system of education shouldn’t be the barrier that hinders their learning; it should be the fuel that launches it.

And another, “We must defend innovation. We need more innovation in schools. We’re getting nowhere with antiquated curricula that blocks creative problem-solving and cross-disciplinary learning. Students need to learn things that are just in time rather than just in case.  In order to innovate, students need to take risks, make mistakes, and fail. And then do it again. And then do it again. Failing early and failing often creates a cycle of iteration and a learning mode that invites trial and error, discovery and exploration, and intrinsic motivation.”

I LOVE the line, “Students need to learn things that are just in time rather than just in case.”  WOW!  And just in case is nostalgic.  I’ve heard myself answer a question from a kid, “You’re going to need this later.”  Just in case. 

Two more.  First, “We must create a culture of connection rather than a culture of correction. How we interact with each other matters now more than ever. We are the only humans in the history of humanity who have been as well-connected as we are now. That’s a lot of overlapping of talents, and a lot of opportunities. Yet we are losing the possibilities that lie within the overlap by continuing to separate politically, socially, and culturally. Communicating and collaborating are key 21st-century skills.”

And bringing it all home, “We must commit to our objective of loyalty to learning and the learner. It no longer matters just what students know. It matters what they can do with what they know. Contemporary students don’t necessarily need teachers to gift them with knowledge. Knowledge lives everywhere now. Everybody has access to everything. Contemporary students do need teachers to help them sort, sift, connect, sophisticate, construct, create, explain, and evaluate all that is out in the ether.”

I would encourage each educator to simply take a look around your daily life.  Look at how you do things.  Look at how you communicate with other people.  Look at how you order things.

And here’s my example from this very morning.  I needed to order refill cartridges for my electric razor.  I called out, from the bathroom, “Alexa, reorder shaving refill cartridges.”  And I heard, “Looking at your last order….is that what you want?”  I said, “Yes.”  And Alexa said, “Done.”  I take that level of interactivity and communication for granted these days.  And in 5 years, that will probably seem nostalgic.

We need to give kids the chance to practice skills for tomorrow.  Not fill them with ‘just in case’ learning today, for a world that doesn’t exist anymore.  Just ask Alexa.