Monday, August 19, 2013

In-Service Days

I've been thinking about my professional development lately.  In my opinion, the most effective PD for me have been the ones that I make an effort to be a part of:  Conferences,  Blogging, Twitter, The Global Math Department, and PARLO PLCs.  Do you notice what's missing from this list?  In-Service Days.

Not every teacher is exposed to conferences, blogging, twitter, the global math department, and PLCs.  But every teacher is required to attend in-service days.  This is where we can reach EVERYONE.  Why are school districts not taking advantage of this?

When I graduated from college, in my mind my education was over.  I knew everything about education that I needed to know.  And my employer only helped to encourage that type of thinking.

Although the in-service training that I am exposed to is informative, it doesn't help me become a better educator.  Here are the recent things I have been in-serviced on:  The Charlotte Danielson Model (how I'm going to be evaluated), Common Core and the SAS portal (a lot), gang awareness, concussions, and sanitation.  Nowhere in this list do you see anything on technique.  I've been teaching for 13 years and I have seen the same video on sanitation 13 times because the law requires it.  I have been in-serviced on the Charlotte Danielson Model for the past two years.  About three in-service days a year are geared toward curriculum.  But again, nothing on sharing good classroom practices.

I know that my neighbors are doing amazing things in their classrooms, and more than likely have some suggestions and ideas for me.  But I don't have the time to discuss this with them because we are too busy perfecting our curriculum.  I use SBG, but my colleagues on the other side of the building don't even know what SBG stands for.

Here's what I propose:  Make In-Service Days More Like Conferences.

Each in-service day is broken into 4 blocks that are about an hour each with 15-20 minutes between each block.    A few weeks before the in-service there is a call for presenters.  Teachers who have something they would like to share, submit a proposal to administration.  After the administrators pick the presenters, a list is provided to the entire faculty and they are able to sign up for the four sessions that pique their interest.

What if there is something the district is required to in-service their faculty on?  Make that one of the sessions and make it mandatory.

What's in it for the presenters?  Other than sharing their ideas?  Well, in our district we earn comp time for our last in-service day of the school year.  The presenters could be given comp time toward that.

What's in it for the administration?  It's less planning on their part.  The administration would only have to select who the presenters are and sit back.

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