One of my colleagues is itching to read something good that will get her excited for the new school year ahead. Another has already taken a three day workshop and another is wondering why we can't just enjoy the first week of vacation without thinking about professional development. Professional development is a really personal thing. There are times when I've experienced PD in a powerful way. I had either signed up for a workshop or course or read a book and the timing was just perfect. I was ready to learn and could easily see how what I was learning could have an a immediate and powerful application to my practice. There are other times that I wasn't in a the right mindset or didn't see the connection between what I was learning and what my students needed most. In those instances I felt like PD was being done to me. I blamed the provider or the presenter but never took the time to reflect and realize that I might be the problem.
In the end, PD is personal. I have had many conversations with PD directors over the years who have wondered what PD to offer our district's elementary teachers. More than one has taken care to survey teachers and ask them about the PD that they want. I wonder if the right questions were really asked. What would we say if we were asked to examine our practice and to determine where it was the weakest? What if we had to choose a focus that would make the most impact on our day to day teaching? My focus would be different. As a rule, elementary teachers don't want math PD. I want it badly but don't likely need it as much as I want it.
My ELA instruction needs a major overhaul. I want to turn to the familiar places I've received inspiration in the past. Lucy Calkins' work and the work of Gail Boushey and Joan Moser light me up. There is this voice in my head that invites me to become immediately discouraged because our district has chosen to be a basal reader district not interested in student-centered, innovative teaching at the elementary level. I have worked hard to find a place where Wonders reading and the Daily Cafe can co-exist and I have come away with iterations that don't do justice to either. This is my problem. This is where I need PD. Like the little mouse, Despereax, I am on a quest. I hope it will be an exciting one! I hope I'll find what I'm looking for.
The Daily Cafe
The Lucy Calkins Project
The Tale of Despereaux