27 August 2015

Kids > Your Professional Learning or Goals

As we wrap up professional development plan season in teacher-land, let us remember that it's the little things we do as PEOPLE that make all the difference to the children in our care. 

Just because I have a passion for X doesn't mean that doing X is going to advance my skill and proficiency at helping students do Y. X might look good on a resume, and be good for career advancement to adminstration, but making hard decisions that make the adults in our schools uncomfortable often are the most student-friendly. 

As a couple examples...

If you are hyper-focised on classroom management and eliminating distractions, you might target locking-up student devices as a strategy to ensure attention and engagement.  We give up a lot of control when we allow students the freedom to use their electronic devices as they choose in the hallway or commons, but we trade it some for more convenient opportunities for kids to complete school work or communicate with their teachers or classmates. You may end up coming looking like you don't have "control," but if you've coached your students in appropriate usage and times for usage, the KIDS are better off. 
It's certainly not sexy, and not usually effective in promoting and engaging higher-order thinking, but can you leave room in your professional planning that some days students might need a worksheet (with answers/solutions) to gain practice and feedback?

 My own goal on my professional development plan is related to engaging kids in vague, "ungoogle-able" questions that require them to find and sort through information and then choose from procedural skills to apply in their problem-solving process. I'm really excited about this goal, and in the long term its best for kids to have these skills, but I know some days I'm going to need to step back and give more support than I really want to or think they need. In the Disney version of your classroom, kids always respond well to your efforts and initiatives, and always appreciate higher standards for learning. That often happens in reality, but there are also those kids with those days that need a relationship more  than they need rigor. 

Our goals can sometimes stand in opposition to students' legitimate will to learn - on those days its important to remember that my relationship with a student endures in my legacy far longer than the lesson for the week.

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Thanks for sharing!