PD? Stand up! Find Your People!

What is Professional Development (PD) anyway?  This is a question I have been pondering and challenging for all too long.  Sometimes PD is herding teachers into a room to hear a “professional” talk at them on a topic they themselves could be the expert at or PD could be teachers forced to sit on uncomfortable chairs in oppressively hot rooms to be lectured on a topic they have no interest in.  Why can’t teachers be asked what kind of learning would help them individually develop themselves as professionals?

Last week I had just that opportunity.  An opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded colleagues excited to take learning into their own hands.  Attending the MassCUE (Massachusetts Computer Using Educators)  conference at Gilette Stadium gave me an opportunity to attend sessions with “my people” on topics that changed my pedagogy and honed my professional practice immediately.  The MassCUE conference is comprised of individual sessions led by teachers for teachers and it is phenomenal.  This year I had the honor of presenting a session with a colleague on ways teachers can use technology to engage students in reading beyond the book.  It was so satisfying to see that teachers were learning from our experience; Mike and I Masscuewe were professionals giving true PD to fellow professionals.

In addition we were chosen to present a session as part of  CUEKids where we brought four students from our previous class with us to help teach teachers how to use Google My Maps in social studies.  So many teachers learned from these student professionals and were gushing with enthusiasm eager to return to their classrooms to use their new found learning with students.

Professional development can take many forms, but until teachers stand up and make their needs known we will continue to be trapped in someone else’s idea of what we need to grow professionally.  We preach so much that students must be given choice, shouldn’t the same be afforded to teachers?