Four PD sessions I wish I knew how to teach

In the process of tagging the PD sessions I have taught over the past four years for uploading,  I realized that almost 90% of it dealt with the teaching cycle and particular moves a teacher makes during the execution of a lesson.  This made me wonder what I wasn’t teaching teachers.  In particular were there foundational thinking, planning, and social skills that I was ignoring that needed to be in place for the later PD to stick?

Here are the four sessions I would love to add to my bag of tricks.

Planning Periods-Moving from Myth to Reality:  The aim would be something like teachers will implement time and energy management strategies for more efficient planning and assessment. This year as in many previous ones I work with an amazingly hard working crew of teachers.  The supposedly blank spaces on their schedules reserved for planning time are consumed daily with tutoring sessions, coverages for absent teammates, and meetings.  This reality is coupled with the fact that planning a lesson is hard, really hard,  Sisyphus and the boulder hard, Russian novelist starting on the first page hard.  I don’t know how to teach time and energy management, after all this blog post has taken three weeks to finish, but I think it’s a meta-skill that too often we think is only needed for principals.

I am just not creative like teacher X. Along with pushing an explicit mindset shift (creative isn’t something you are; it’s something you do) the aim would likely be teachers will develop planning habits  that increase the creativity of their lessons.   I had minor break through about this recently while teaching cumulative review; the teachers did a brilliant job of tweaking an over-used review game and several teachers took away the idea that creativity can often occur best through revision.  This session could lead directly to more and better hooks in every lesson.

I don’t really know my content and I want to stop bull-shitting or How to stop teaching from Wikipedia. The aim could be teachers will develop strategies and resources to deepen their knowledge of content. Content is hard at every level; if you don’t believe me watch a really great kindergarten teacher explain the content of a lesson about capacity (go to KIPP Share and search for Liz Cogneour’s capacity lesson).  Many teachers need to build a planning process that engages them deeply in the content, its nuances, critical attributes, and potential misconceptions.

How to make a classroom pleasing to the eye  and spirit even if you can’t match your own socks.  I guess the title speaks directly to aim.   Whether you follow the broken windows theory or believe deeply that our spaces create our querencia there’s no doubt in my mind that classrooms should be clean, neat, and vibrant for the eye.

What PD sessions do you wish you had or wish you could teach?  Bonus points for the best titles.


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