Monday, February 17, 2014

Differentiation...for staff? #SAVMP

Maybe I'm just a little bit weird when it comes to PD, but I cannot imagine having every staff member have the same PD.  The worst PD I had was sit and get that didn't allow for any conversations or questioning or movement.  My inability to stay focused for any extended period of time probably didn't help matters much.  It felt like I was just sitting there with Charlie Brown's teacher speaking at me, not to me.

The best PD I've had has been when I was able to choose what I wanted, or needed, to learn.  The SLATE conference and various EdCamps that I have had the fortune to attend allowed me to choose from a variety of offerings.  I was nearly always able to find something that sparked my interest.  If I started in a session that wasn't exactly what I was looking for, I let my feet do the talking and chose another session.

As principal, PD has become one of my most important duties.  I know that I am not the all knowing and all powerful Oz so I use the talents of those around me to develop PD opportunities for the staff.  We have run EdCamp style PD during an afternoon while the superintendent and I chaperoned the students while we had a celebration including a DJ and board games.  We have run TILT Tuesdays when staff can choose to learn from one another.  We have book chats and send staff to conferences whenever the need arises.  We must allow our teachers to guide their own learning, but there are also times when we must direct their PD.  But even when we direct their PD, we need to allow them some ability to have some choice in how they learn.

There are times where nearly everyone needs to receive the same PD, especially when it involves a school wide or district wide goal like Writer's or Reader's Workshop.  Even in these cases, however, we can differentiate how PD is delivered so that it meets the needs of the teachers.  As principals and district leaders, it is important to provide as much differentiated PD as we can.  And if we aren't the expert, there are plenty of teachers that we work with who are more than capable of leading the PD.  All you need to do is give them the opportunity.