“…But fear itself.” This oft-repeated quote (first uttered by Franklin D. Roosevelt at his first Presidential inauguration in 1933) neatly sums up my thoughts about collaboration between educators. There is so much to be gained from sharing between colleagues, yet many are wary. Why? Could it be our top-down P.D. model?
In my ten years of teaching, I have been to dozens (if not hundreds) of P.D. sessions. The overwhelming majority of those sessions have involved me being taught strategies meant to improve my teaching. At the same time, I can count on one hand the number of times that I have been invited, in a professional development context, to share what I am doing in my class. Oh sure, there’s often a request that I try a strategy out in my class and return to share how effective it’s been, but being asked to bring something new to the table? It never happens. In fact, the only time my lessons are ever really examined, is during my periodic teacher performance appraisals.
Could it be then, that we have been trained to believe that our lessons really only exist to be ‘critiqued’ or ‘enhanced’ by others? That we have nothing to share, because effective strategies are only brought to us by board personnel? (note: Just want to point out that the board personnel I know clearly don’t feel that way. I’m talking more about the sub-conscious message teachers receive rather than the message intended by those who develop P.D.) This could certainly explain the guarded attitude that some teachers feel about sharing their lessons…
I find myself joining a larger chorus of educators calling for more teacher-directed P.D. opportunities. Perhaps a Genius Hour – type project, where teachers can share the things they are passionately developing with those who are keenly interested in new developments. Anyone have examples of this that they can share?