Monday, August 24, 2015

Talking to Teachers

This week I'm making a number of presentations to teachers just before they start school.

As an educator who is still working full time in the classroom, I know how difficult it is to sit still during the day or two you have before you meet the students. During those days your mind is full of ideas and multiple tasks you want to complete before the students' arrival. You want that teaching space to look just right and need the time and energy to hang posters, move desks and tables, and arrange supplies.

Yet, in most schools, there's plenty of time during the day or two before school starts devoted to professional learning and meetings, and I've been invited to participate in those pre-meetings for a couple of schools. As I speak to teachers, I want to mindful of their busy schedules, full minds, and probably, for the most part, their disinterest in "sit and git" learning at this time of the year.

So what's a presenter to do?

Acknowledge the Reality of the Situation
I want to first acknowledge the reality of the situation since I also don't like too much sitting and listening at the start of the school year, and in this regard I'll let them know that I'm okay with multi-tasking. I don't mind if a participant is checking over his/her first day plans, attendance roster, or administration emails while I'm talking. In fact, in the best of worlds in the future, I hope that the kind of presentations I've been invited to participate in will become choices for educators rather than have-to meetings at the start of school.

Enlist Teacher Voice
I've agreed to participate in these professional efforts because I believe the intent of the events is valuable when it comes to teaching students well. What I will share is work that I've done, and I've found that work to be profitable with regard to students' investment and learning. Yet I recognize that every school and context is different so I hope to invite teacher voice into these presentations. I'll be open minded to what the teachers in the particular systems think, need, or wonder about with regard to the overarching content focus.

Provide Access to Ideas and Activities
While I share some specific ideas, I've created the presentations with lots of links and ideas that teachers can look back on again and again. I've added both presentation documents to my Twitter. The first document, an SRSD math problem solving site is up-to-date, and the second "College and Career Readiness" Perspectives/Practice for K-8 is just about complete as there's still a few slides to update. I'll leave those links up for a few weeks so that the educators involved have the chance to copy the link into their own professional files for future reference and effort. If you're interested in the presentations, I welcome you to take a look too.

I'm looking forward to meeting the educators from communities other than my own. I'm just as much interested in sharing my ideas and practice as I am ready to learn from these teachers as well. I see this work as an exchange of ideas and efforts, the kind of exchange that will help us to develop our craft and contribute to the students and education communities we serve.