Friday, December 2, 2011

Professional Development that Matters: Library World Smackdown

Last week, I had the opportunity to watch The Mitchell 20 with a group of educators from my district. I have to admit, I went into it feeling a little dubious. After all the hullabaloo surrounding Waiting for Superman, I was prepared to be unimpressed. And while I didn't leave the theater inspired, per say, I did leave with an overwhelming feeling affirmation - as if something I've long known to be true was being validated up on the screen.

We all know there's a lot wrong with education. No matter where you teach, things at school are getting tougher, not easier. Increased poverty decreased funding and a national dialogue that is decidedly anti-teacher are heavy burdens for even the strongest among us to carry. And while The Mitchell 20 doesn't gloss over or dismiss those realities, its main focus is on a frank and open discussion about teacher quality and, more significantly, on the lack of relevance, collaboration and reflection in the professional development that is available to most teachers. In my opinion, this is a discussion that needs to be had.

While the film holds up National Board Certification as a model of high quality professional development because of its emphasis on rigor and reflection, as an NBCT myself, I don't believe being Board certified is only way to skin this particular cat. If relevance, collaboration and reflection are the keys to transforming professional development from a waste of time to a game changer, then it's up to all of us to take control of our learning and embed ourselves in professional development that both matters and makes a difference. What's more, I believe this is totally doable. Indeed, if there's one overwhelming message to be taken from The Mitchell 20, it's that there's really nothing a group of committed, quality teachers can't do.

Which leads me to the TL Virtual Cafe. As Teacher Librarians, we are so lucky. When I was a classroom teacher (which, I promise, wasn't that long ago), I never felt as connected to or supported by my professional community as I do now. We have many opportunities to engage with our colleagues, to reflect on our practice, share our successes and scoop up new ideas. The TL Virtual Cafe is one such opportunity.

And, as luck would have it, there's one coming up!

So, whatever you've got scheduled for Monday, cancel it and pencil in the TL Virtual Cafe Smackdown. This is an open mic session, hosted by Joyce Valenza and moderated by Gwyneth Jones, where you'll not only be wowed by the mad skills of your library homies, but you'll also have the chance to take the mic and impress all of them as well. It's going to be super fun and incredibly impactful. Here are the details.

Monday December 5th - 8pm EST
Joyce will share her top discoveries of the year.
Get ready to share your faves too and help us build an interactive resource book.

At the TL Virtual Cafe on December 5th, 8PM Eastern, we’ll be hosting a tlvirtualcafe/Open_Mic|Learning Tools Open Mic/Smackdown/Karaoke. We’re planning to get ready by building a crowd-souced presentation/book. Please feel free to grab a slide (or several) and be ready to grab the mic on the night of the event and share your faves. We’ll leave the evening with our own dynamic, growable resource book. Participant Link

It looks like serious fun, right? I hope to "see" you there!

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer--you are right to admit that as classroom teachers, there is little collaboration and support among fellow teachers, simply because the bulk of our PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) is spent disaggregating data. We rarely get to research best practices from sources available on the web, nor do we get together with teachers from other WSFC schools. While NBPTS is a great way to reflect on your practices as a teacher, we certainly can't discount the use of other professionals as sounding boards. Our system is doing a good job (as far as ELA is concerned, anyway) sharing best practices as a district, through professional work days spent together grades 6-12 at one location, with teachers presenting mini-workshops in smorgasbord fashion. I have gleaned more good ideas from my colleagues in eight mini-workshops than I have in 15 years with curriculum folks! Keep fighting the good fight. (Perhaps even I can be enticed not to give up!)