Recently I attended the EdTech Team Roseville Summit. For the past five years they have been coming out to Placer County providing a two-day workshop that has had some of the best speakers and professional development at the regional level that I've seen. This last weekend was again another home run. Empowering keynotes.... informational sessions... great side conversations.... and list keeps going.
But in this blog post I'm going to talk more about the people who attended, and in particular those who didn’t attend.
While at the Summit, I was in between sessions and a group of us were talking about the event. One of the teachers said “it's always the same teachers I see… why can’t we get others here?” And I totally agree, the educators I see attending from my own district are the ones who tend to always to be the ones who go above and beyond. So I feel that frustration, and to be blunt, I had my hardest time in five years convincing educators my own district to attend. I would say “hey… it two miles away” and “hey… it will cost you nothing” and “hey… its catered by Panera”. Yet still the answer would be “No, thanks”.
Now after a bit of reflection, here is my assessment of why I think we, my district and all the others out there too, are in this situation:
First off, I think it's just there is too much on educator’s plates.
Admins and teachers alike are every year bombarded with more and more “must do’s”. From new adoptions to new testing to more accountability to more paperwork… it all just keeps piling up. To hear more about this, take a moment to listen to this episode of Jennifer Gonzalez’s “Cult of Pedagogy” podcast on the subject off “too much”
So, when we come around asking to take part in stretching yourself and becoming a more connected and innovator educator, many feel simply “I don't have time” or “I can’t add one more thing to my plate”.
But if I could push back just a little from the #toobusy, I’d say…. “Give it a chance!” The ideas and inspiration that one walks away from PD like this ranges from revolutionary (“this is changing the way I teach!” i.e. Peardeck for my slides and direct instruction) to simple (“hmmm.. I could use that idea for one of my lessons” i.e. Google Arts and Culture)
#2) Admin Support
I feel that in order to really light a fire under a teacher, you need a principal. If we can get more administrators to
A) come to events like this and other specific admin targeted PD, then we can get them to see the relevance and
B) have them push it in their staff meetings, newsletters and emails, then we can increase participation
#3) Stuck in Orbit
I feel that #toobusy is the easy answer to “why aren’t you going”. But this is one which I see so very often and not many even realize it. This is what I call “stuck in orbit”. What I mean by this is that we find ourselves in regular patterns of doing things that, overtime, become easier and more comfortable. These orbits define our professional role and we tend to like being there. There are many different orbits… they are specific to each of us. Here are a few examples:
* I’m a 5th grade teacher who is passionate about science
* I’m the athletic director and I teach world history
* I’m 7th grade ELA teacher and I run the after school drama club
The issue is when opportunities like the PD events I mentioned before come up, most say “no thanks” because it's just too hard / not worth it / waste of time. And I understand that it's hard… just like any planetary orbit, if there is something that changes that orbit, chaos can ensue. But hey… it can also create life right?
If you ask me… a little chaos is kind of needed.