Being back teaching middle years on a full-time basis has been a shift for me this year. As many of you know, I’ve was working on my PhD for the previous 6 years as a full-time student. Before that, I was an administrator so the jump back into full-time teaching has meant a few changes. One of the changes is that this year I have been teaching online full-time which has meant that I have been able to put into practice some of the different strategies I’ve been working on for the past few years.
As many of you know, one of my mantras for the past few years has been “Every day is a PD day” because I believe daily learning is the key to growth as an individual and a professional. Now, this isn’t really anything new. In fact, daily PD is something that is discussed and explored by others. My focus is how such an approach can support educators in the work they do and help them to consistently make progress, especially at a time when everything seems to be changing and what one did yesterday might require change today.
Now, I have been working on making daily PD a part of my daily habits either through daily reading, incorporating new ideas into my teaching, exploring new ideas for assessment or just seeing what other educators are doing in their classrooms and reflecting on how this might work in my own situation. What I haven’t been doing, and something that you’d think I’d have noticed, is sharing this journey. Part of PD is not only consuming but also creating and sharing. We often see PD as consuming – reflecting – implementing but I’ve found that sharing the process, more like through a Design Thinking lens with iteration and feedback, helps me to clarify what appears to be happening. Interestingly enough, it was recent podcasts by Todd Henry – The Accidental Creative and Jeff Brown – The Read to Lead podcast – where I was reminded of this.
Both of these podcasts recently did an interview with Seth Godin about his new book The Practice. As I listened to the podcasts – and I encourage you to listen to both of these podcasts if you aren’t doing so – I was reminded that I was SAYING what people should do but I wasn’t DOING it. What I mean by this is that I haven’t been sharing this journey as I transition at this point in my career. Many people have questioned my decision to return to the classroom at this point but that’s part of the story. As I listened to the podcast and what Seth was saying (I went out and bought the book so there will be more on that later), it hit me that I needed to Walk the Talk. I needed to share the journey of daily PD.
After listening to the podcast, began once again to read the daily blogs by one of my online friends, David Truss, who I have known for many years. David is an administrator in Coquitlam, B.C. at the Inquiry Hub . We have connected on and off again over the years and this past fall began to daily connect as we both worked at getting back into shape. Reading his daily blog was a part of my morning routine until Christmas. As I listened to Seth Godin speak, it dawned on me that I wasn’t producing any more, just consuming. I was taking in but not sharing. So, following in the footsteps of David Truss, I am going to share my daily PD journey.
Why Do This?
My reasons for doing this are many – from helping me to document my own learning, to helping me to refine my daily habits, to helping me to be accountable by publicly stating what I’m going to do. I want to help other educators see PD isn’t all about big changes but about the daily habit of change. In this way, I hope to share how this can help to alter one’s mindset when it comes to change. Yes, one of the constants of our current situation is that change is happening but it doesn’t mean that people are being open to change or seeing ways to embrace the change. In many cases, I believe, people are just toughing it out hoping that ‘this too shall pass’ and there will be a return to what is often referred to as NORMAL.
My hope is embracing daily PD will support others in making a shift in how they are currently approaching change and shift from a ‘this too shall pass’ mindset to a ‘this can help me grow’ mindset, sharing that with their own students and others. In order to do this, I know I have to be honest about what is happening. Every day isn’t a 5 out of 5. There have been some 1’s and 2’s recently. Days when I struggled and questioned “What am I doing?” It was after one of those days that I happened to hear the podcast with Todd Henry and that helped nudge me. Not every day is a 5 and that is life. But it’s also why I believe that “Every day is a PD day”.