Why I Love (and Hate) Professional Conferences

I’m in the middle of a two-week stint of attendance and presentation at a pair of conference for professional education organizations.  I found myself growing eager for the rejuvenating experience that I often enjoy at these events.  Like most teachers, I come away with exciting lesson ideas and validation about the way I teach.  Being at these conferences is rewarding and energizing.

Hand whit I

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Do As I Say, Not As I Do

What happens to educators when they leave the classroom and move up the ranks of school administration?  Is there some sort of “amnesia ray” that is beamed into their minds to erase all that they have learned about pedagogy?  Why do we teach educators using methods that would be woefully inadequate for students?

from Chloe Dietz (flickr)

I asked myself these rhetorical questions this week as I was “trained” in the use of our district’s new professional development component.  Blaming the high cost of hiring trainers and providing substitute teachers, our very large school district has purchased licenses for a new web-based PD product.  The entire website is based around teachers viewing video clips and then reflecting what they have learned from them.  Many of the clips are simply digitized versions of decades-old instructional videos that weren’t all that helpful in their original, analog, form.

Right now, this service is being presented as a supplement to existing face-to-face workshop opportunities, but how long will it be before this is the model for all future professional development?  I cringe at the thought that the advent of easy internet video streaming and pressing financial woes might inflict this type of boring, passive, meaningless education on professional educators.  But, that’s just the beginning…

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