I did a workshop today with local teachers on how to use their Classroom Performance System. (Clickers)
The teachers had had a previous workshop, but got a new set of clickers in and wanted further instruction. I went over the basics, showed them some of the web resources I have collected , and then let them "play."
As workshops go--this one was pretty flawless. Even with multiple levels of comfort, everyone created content and felt confident by the time they left.
I was talking to one of the participants, who happened to be a student teacher, and was saying how great it was that the school system was letting her participate in staff development. She said that the district I was in today actually encouraged her to do all kinds of staff development as they valued the opportunity to "practice" her craft rather than be just a student (or victim, perhaps?) of theoretical knowledge. I thought that was really cool. That's the kind of proactive stance that invigorates the badly needed shift in education today. The fact that it was also a technology workshop was bonus!
If schools are serious about being a part of the shift , then change has to occur over the whole system, from brand spanking new folks to those on the edge of retirement. In fact, there was a teacher there today who was a year or two from retirement and who held her own against the younger, more digital native types in the room.
When I looked at the evaluations for workshop, the common thread was an appreciation for alloted "play" time. What most would call independent practice, I frame as "play" time and tell participants in workshops that I do that "playing is the new competency." Without the ability to play effectively, the internet and technology applications can quickly become overwhelming. Likewise, workshops that are all informational with no engagement time are not likely to shift anyone's pedagogical stance. People need time to let their brains absorb and construct, rewire and reframe--and playtime during a workshop does exactly that.
It was just a nice day, with nice folks, and nice conversation.
I like these days...