PD or Not PD – That is the Question

photo 3First of all, I have to remember that today was a good day on many levels (because the day has ended photo 4poorly and I am trying to focus on the positive).  Good things that happened today:

  • Segment Addition Score in Geometry;
  • Solve Crumple Toss with Rational Expressions, Equations and Inequalities – the high basket was conceptualized by my students, who were hoping someone would open the door mid-game (how many times will I thank @k8nowak in this blog?);
  • Getting Paid Interest on Hours Owed from the NYC DOE (amazing but true)!

I will try to remember these things, even though the day ended with an almost fight in a classroom (luckily the Assistant Principal of Security happened to be walking by), a deflationary error in the grades I submitted (luckily I was able to correct them in time for report card printing) and my student teacher – M.I.A. – withdrawing via email (not quite a Post-It, but close).  Overall, a plus day.

I’ve been trying to write this post for several days; my motivation came from attending on Wednesday the first session of a teacher leadership program for which I have been selected.  But papers to be graded, an errant student teacher, and my required nightly support from the #MTBoS all delayed my writing.  I shall digress no more.

I was hugely disappointed and frustrated by the program I attended.  I applied for a spot in this program, solicited administrative support to gain admission, and worked with a colleague because ‘teams of teachers’ from each school were a requisite for participation.  In short, getting in took time and effort.   But the meeting was chaotic, piles of materials were distributed with little clarification on their purpose (including 4 books on protocols and facilitation for which NO explanation was given), and the discussions took place around tables in a room that became prohibitively noisy.  We were repeatedly brought to attention with clapping rhythms (the meeting was run by elementary school teachers WHO I NORMALLY ADORE), given conflicting messages about groupwork and goal-setting, and unclear direction on a homework assignment.   The ‘aim’ of the meeting (and the program) seemed to be (a) how to get groups of teachers – very possibly unwilling ones -to cooperate and work towards a successful School Quality Review and (b) how one’s role as a ‘teacher leader’ would manifest itself in the new evaluation system under the ubiquitous Danielson Rubric.  But in execution, the session was a model of what not to do in a classroom.

In retrospect, I should not be surprised at the agenda I encountered, but only at my own ability to project my own goals on a program whose objectives may not completely coincide with mine (maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at this, actually; wishful thinking is very powerful).  As such, one thing this meeting did accomplish was to clarify what it is I am seeking in my continual search for the professional development my school doesn’t (or can’t) adequately provide.

I WANT TO BE A GREAT MATH TEACHER.  AND GET TO DO GREAT MATH IN THE PROCESS. That’s all.

Many things fall under the umbrella of this goal – reading about, implementing and sharing ideas in a professional learning community (for me, the #MTBoS), collaborating with other teachers at school, delving into the Common Core in a way that will enrich my classroom, learning about and incorporating technology in an intentional and progressive way, as well as supporting my school so that the great teaching to which I aspire can take place.  AND learning more math, practicing more math, wallowing in more math.   So I must be very clear in my choices of professional development – they must lead to the goal of which I am so confident I am willing to put on my CapsLock in the harsh public glare of the interwebs.

I know that I don’t want to be an administrator.  I have always known this (done that management thing in another lifetime), but dipping my toe into the DOE’s leadership program has reinforced this conviction with steel and concrete.  And, more than anything, I don’t want to spend time doing something that is not in service of my personal and professional goals.    So what do I do?  Find a way to renege on the commitment I made to spend a year in this program?  [Goes totally against the grain of this goody-two-shoes-turned-badass-nerd-math-teacher.] Stick it out and find a way to turn it into GREAT MATH TEACHING?  [Will require HUGE stretch of imagination.]

HOME August 2013

HOME August 2013

I have been trying for the last couple of years to really live my life the way I want to.  Yes, I have to go to work and pay bills, but beyond that I don’t want to waste time on things that I ‘should’ do, a philosophy has been hard-earned with age and cancer.  Time is not infinite, only infinitely precious.  I get way more joy from the creativity I must summon to help Liza and Julius make their shots, or to quilt, than I ever will from a book on protocols.     I’m not sure how to always keep that in front of me, in my sights, but I know that’s what has to guide me.

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