If you drive with the radio on like me, I’m sure you know about the Pemco “you’re a lot like us guys.” I don’t really know much about insurance, and I don’t have a particular feeling to share with you about Pemco, but I do know that this advertising campaign is catchy. On some levels it’s quite ridiculous and stereotypical, yet I always know exactly who in my life the profile they’re talking about belongs to. That’s because I know these people. They exist and many of them are my friends.
One afternoon, I was driving from my building to the district office for a professional development session. One of these Pemco commercials came on and I thought it related completely to me and my colleagues when it comes to professional development. With the implementation of CCSS, it seems like PD is more plentiful than ever. Whether attending courses in my building, through my district, at the ESD, or through organizations, I see the same people. Of course, they aren’t the exact same people, but never-the-less, the same people are present. Now I don’t see “Relentless Recycler” or “Type A Yoga Girl” at PD sessions (okay, maybe sometimes I do), but I do see:
“Oooh, My Principal’s Offering a New Class? Pick Me! Pick Me! I LOVE to Learn!” Guy
“Uuugh, PD? Waste … of … Time” Girl
“I’m So Busy I’ll Go, but Focus on my Laptop Instead” Guy
“PD?! YESSS! Great Time to Catch up with Colleagues” Girl
“Front Row, Take Notes, Ask Questions, Absorb Everything” Guy
“Please Make This Relevant for Me, my Students, and my Staff Right Now” Guy
I Can’t Wait to Share This With my Team” Girl
You know who each of these people are, right? Have you seen any of these people at PD? Do you happen to be one of them? Or maybe a combination of a few? I certainly am. In fact, I’m a little of them all. I love learning how to most effectively instruct my students, but I, just like you, am busy! I don’t want my time wasted and if not engaged, I WILL find myself thinking of everything I else I need to be doing. However, I cannot get enough of professional development that is authentic and engaging. Edutopia published a great article about advocating for effective professional development here.
When it comes to CCSS, or any topic for that matter, I’ve found that my own colleagues know best about exactly what we need for our students. There are many tremendous presenters that my district and building have worked closely with. Given a chance, I’d participate in a heartbeat in PD sessions by them. However, using the expert in your own building is often just as great! My principal is a great leader for many reasons, but one of which is she utilizes each staff member’s strengths in creating our own PD.
Recently, I’ve taken a stab at facilitating book studies. This PD in my building has been optional, but well- received. As I’ve mentioned before, looking at close reading has become a focus in my district. I loved the book Falling in Love with Close Reading. Mary was able to attend a class all about it. That wasn’t an option for my colleagues right now, but we all knew we needed some work with the content these authors presented. The solution? I asked my principal to buy 15 books, which cost a fraction of bringing a speaker in (there’s a budget tip for you if money is always of concern!). I used some of Donalyn Miller’s thoughts to create a book study agenda. I adapted the study guide Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts created to make something that would work for my staff in the amount of time we had. We read on our own and met a few times (morning snacks never hurt!). Following the agenda we set with critical questions about the reading led us into conversations that have really allowed us to improve our practice around close reading and reading comprehension. The only complaint about this book study? We didn’t have enough time to talk about everything.
The buy-in was huge and the time commitment was doable. This form of PD has been so beneficial as we implement CCSS because, while I’ve been facilitating the conversations, we’re all critical components of the conversation. Next on the list? Pathways to the Common Core, Common Core Standards in a Diverse Classroom, or The Common Core: Teaching K-5 Students to Meet the Reading Standards. Do you have any books you might suggest for elementary teachers trying to get a handle of CCSS?
Education World wrote an article about how to implement an even shorter form of PD surrounding educational literature here.
Oh! And if you’re wondering, in the Pemco world, I live somewhere between “Northwest Profile #23 – Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Lady” and “Northwest Profile #26 I Know I Am, I’m Sure I Am, Sounders FC Fan.”
I grew up here in Western Washington, wanting to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. As the oldest child in my family, I had plenty of opportunities to "practice" teaching my younger siblings. I enjoyed this. They may not have. :) When I'm not working, I enjoy outdoor activities with my husband and our two Australian Shepherds (whom are far too spoiled for their own good!). I also love spending time with my family, being an auntie (to the cutest kids ever to grace this planet!), hosting dinner parties for friends, crafting, taking photographs and shopping.