Saturday, 18 May 2013

Wacky PD

I have been reading a great deal lately about PD for teachers that is the most likely to lead to improved student outcomes. All of them are very clear that one off PD days for an individual teacher serve no purpose whatsoever. Gosh I remember the days. They were so exciting. It meant a day off from teaching where you could meet up with all your mates, the food was always great and you could have a good moan about everything that was wrong with the world. Student outcomes did not feature at all. I have no recollection of ever discussing student outcomes.
Perhaps my most bizarre was a writing course with a woman called Mona (I can't remember her surname). She was an expert on teaching personal writing. So there we were on our day off ready to learn about how to get our students to feel more comfortable writing a story from personal experience. She asked us to sit on the floor facing the wall. We had to think of a story and then tell it out loud to the wall. We all did exactly that. At the time when we were all teachers together it seemed reasonable even if somewhat strange. I couldn't wait to try it with my Year 12 class with whom I was doing a writing unit. I organised the room and when the students came in I explained the process to them. The students were compliant and down they sat facing the wall. All seemed to be going well until a young woman called Claire suddenly rolled back and cried out, "Ms Cavanagh, this is ridiculous, this time you have gone too far !!! " The other students all chimed in with great whoops of laughter "We're not doing it! " they chorused. To be honest I was a bit taken aback to start with but I could see their point. I just wished I had seen the point a bit earlier.
Not all the days were as crazy as that but a lot came close. They were certainly fun but they bore no connection at all to raising achievement for the students sitting in front of us.

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