Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

The very last thing anyone wants in the year of all-things-2020, and when trying to reopen schools amidst a global pandemic, is to add… One. More. Thing.

So let’s not.

Let’s not invest in expensive PD. Let’s not invest in all of the shiny new objects. Let’s not invest in another whole plate, a side dish, or even tempting appetizers and tasty deserts.

Instead, let’s invest in the resources we already have–and start there. For once in education, let’s invest in diving deeper–not wider.

Let’s invest in better gear for the divers. Let’s give each other a longer guide line, a bigger oxygen tank, and an appropriate plan to take the plunge. Let’s balance the buoyancy of the sunlit shallows with the mysteries of the deeper unknown. Let’s submerge, immerse, and synchronize our schools of navigation, together.

Let’s invest in each other.

One Thing

What teachers need to know right now is how to get better at delivering online instruction. That’s it.

  • Yes, this online and blended instruction umbrella includes pedagogy, technology skills, and learning how to give better feedback, for example.
  • Yes, this includes strengthening connection skills, building relationships, and social-emotional-learning.
  • Yes, this includes adhering to all the moving target mandates of federal, state, district, school, and community policies.

Yet, if we can’t communicate our message effectively through the online and blended instructional format this year, if we can’t deliver it to people in a way that’s relevant, meaningful, appropriate, efficient, and effective for them, then we’ve got nothing.

Not One More Thing

We need each other.

Your administrators, communities, teammates, families, and students need you. To whom will you add value? How will you connect and collaborate to move the learning forward–together?

  • Are you up-to-date in current pedagogy, technologies, and tools for teaching and learning? Perhaps this is the moment to catch up–to meet students where they are now and where you’ll be going together.
  • Are there inequities of access, hardware, software, and instructional resources in your district, community, or school that have always existed, yet made urgently transparent in 2020? Make this moment the time you circle back to differentiate accordingly, and set a plan to ensure this never happens again.
  • Do you think that you’re on track and ready for anything this year? Perhaps this is the moment you seek to serve others through coaching, tech support, encouragement, and building others up even if by being a sounding board for venting and troubleshooting.

Are you overwhelmed, frustrated, worried, concerned, anxious, and on the way to burnout? If you answered NO to all of these–I don’t believe you.

  • This year, let’s take a moment to pause. Let’s reflect on life, learning, and what in the world is happening. Let’s invest in the moments with people to learn from reflecting on our shared experiences, together.
  • This year, let’s convert productive struggle into opportunity.
  • This year, let’s connect more effectively, collaborate more efficiently, and get super strategic in doing less.

When was the last time you created, earned, and celebrated small win opportunities to gain forward momentum, together?

The Worst PD

Prediction: By spring of the 2020-2021 school year, most staff and students will be phased in to the physical school buildings again. Exhausted, even the most resilient educators might growl their way into a mandatory staff meeting or another meticulous, technical, professional development session about how to use more products, check more boxes, and meet more requirements of things they have to do while sitting-and-getting.

That makes me wonder…

Beyond the One Thing of becoming better in delivering online and blended instruction this year: how much space will be left on their plate? How much mental bandwidth will be available? How much wider can they stretch without sacrificing depth? How much more quantity will it take to consume their quality? How much will they really have left in the tank to smile forward, serving others?

Our best PD this year? It won’t be about persevering through more mandatory training on impersonal, professional products. It will be about growing with others in our personalized, learning processes we experience, together. End Prediction.

The Best PD

Upon entering another staff meeting or professional development session later in the year of 2020-2021, no one says a word. Complete silence.

  • Silence to think and process.
  • Silence to reflect and learn.
  • Silence to pause and feel this moment. 

At the front of the room, there’s one prompt:

  • What is something you’re persevering through lately?
  • What are you learning in this journey?
  • What do you need to overcome and move forward? 

At the front of the room, the agenda is posted:

  • First 45 Minutes:
    • Consider these questions.
    • Reflect on your journey.
    • Write about it.
    • Post your reflection (blog) on your professional portfolio (website).
  • Last 15 Minutes:
    • Read and comment on one teammate reflection.
    • Read and comment on a different grade/dept reflection.
    • Read and comment on one support staff or administrator reflection.

Go in peace.

Blogger’s Note: A condensed version of this blog was posted on January 26, 2021 at: Alone Together Reflection: Deeper–Then Wide.

What are your thoughts? Comment here!

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