I have a confession to make. I did not walk my own talk this week. I was guilty of the one thing that drives me the most crazy about my job.
I spent a full day in professional development growing my skills as a leader and a learner. I ended up taking over ten pages of notes, and I came home with many good ideas for my work. It was a great day! I will absolutely be better for having been part of it. But, full disclosure, I had been dreading it all week. In fact, I shared with a friend as we were driving there that I was sure it was going to be boring. I seriously thought about skipping it.
What was I thinking? I know better. I get out of things what I put into them. I choose my attitude. Imagine how much more I would’ve gotten out of it had I been fully and positively engaged right from the start.
It can be tempting to play the victim in staff meetings, in staff development, in the staff lounge. We sometimes complain about what is being done to us without taking any responsibility for our own attitude and our own level of engagement. We are in charge of our own learning.
I know there have been times when I was in a session that wasn’t as interesting or as relevant as I needed it to be. When I had the right attitude, I was still able to learn something. I know there have been times when I planned and facilitated staff development that wasn’t as interesting or relevant as others needed it to be. Thankfully, when that happens, there are dedicated, positive professionals who learn things anyway and who come to me to help make it better the next time.
I am on Facebook. I see the memes about teachers and staff development. I try hard to just laugh at them and move on, appreciating the humor. But deep down inside, they make me sad. They make me want to reach through the computer and have a meaningful conversation about personal accountability for growth and attitude. They make me want to ask people what attitude they hope students have everyday when they step into the classroom. And they remind me that my job is to make all learning opportunities (for students and for staff) meaningful.
I am definitely not making excuses for staff development that is neither relevant nor engaging. I work everyday to help us all get better at that. We need to differentiate learning, so it makes the most sense for the learner. I am suggesting though that we should all take responsibility for our own attitude.
Take advantage of every opportunity to get better at what you do or to grow as a human being. Listen to the message, participate in the conversation, seek meaning. If the activity or the topic isn’t relevant and engaging, get involved. The leaders I know are excited when teachers want to participate in planning professional development. Offer your input, share your opinions, but also be willing to step up and make it better.