We as educators know the feeling that comes right after attending an educational conference or professional development, that euphoric high of new possibilities in our classrooms. We come back to school energized, refreshed and excited about sharing what we have learned with others. And we do, for a few days. We try out a few new websites, test out a few new games or worksheets, and then the reality sets in: how exactly do we implement the big ideas that we’ve absorbed during educational conferences in our classrooms? And then the ideas fade away, and are put on the back burner for another time, another school year perhaps ... and therein lies the problem with professional development – no one is providing the tools for us to realistically implement the big ideas in the classroom, and we as teachers (for the most part) are left grasping the small, concrete tidbits that are provided.
So how do we fix the problem? How can we make sure that the big ideas can be implemented in the classroom? The answer – planners. For each professional development session attended, there should always be a moment for us teachers to look at our individual school planners and discuss the changes we would need to make in order to incorporate new ideas. We may need a new planner all together. For example, if we are attending a session on guided reading, we should walk away with a modified or new planner (see planner below) – the tool on hand – so that when we re-enter our classrooms, we have a clear plan of action – not simply just some activity examples to do – because once you complete the activities, then what? And how many of us have time to review the notes we took during the session? And who do we ask for assistance once the session is over?
We as educators need to push for a change in the way professional development is currently being offered. If we are expected to evolve and grow as teachers, we need to push for proper tools to be provided so that we can do so. Otherwise what is the point of professional development?
Imagine if that euphoric high that accompanies making a change in our classrooms and our schools could last more than just a few days ... with planners included as part of professional development, that feeling could very well become a constant presence in our lives as teachers.