PD: Ask teachers to teach their passions

Pete Rodrigues’s recent post on building capacity inspired me to comment. As is often the case, my thinking didn’t cease with the posting of the comment.

Here’s the comment:

I’ve started wondering about the different approaches to determining the topics of PD.

I get that the current model runs on the idea of either running sessions on the newest fad or those areas of need identified within the educational setting.

What about this? What if you went to your teachers and said, “I’ll give you an hour to develop a PD session around something about which you’re passionate.”

Of course, they’d have to keep in mind the need for differentiation.

Still, think of the untapped energy that could come from such a question.

I haven’t stopped thinking about that energy.

What if, for an hour, your school’s art teacher led a lesson on painting, your choir teacher took an hour to teach the importance of harmony, your anatomy teacher helped the faculty through a dissection.

This wouldn’t be teaching about teaching, but actually teaching. Literally teachers as students.

This need not be limited to classroom passions. If an algebra teacher wants to teach on the beauties of pop music or social activism or Chopin, so be it.

Pete’s reply raises the important factors of culture shift and compensation. I see them as difficulties, but not impossible ones.

Start small with lunch groups. PD leaders can model by switching up and teaching a session on what they’re passionate about. Ask students to model and their passions around video games or texting or reading or music or sports or whatever those crazy kids are doing these days.

More than requiring a culture shift, I’m thinking passion-based PD would act as a catalyst for a culture shift.

4 thoughts on “PD: Ask teachers to teach their passions

  1. Zac, I think teachers as learners would be one beneficial outcome. I'd say also that, in the way Google has allowed its employees to take a period of work time (from 10 – 20 percent, I believe) in order to pursue projects of singular importance to them, this idea could generate all kinds of unexpected possibilities. From deeper personal commitment and satisfaction on the part of teachers to previously unthought-of innovations. It's like the entire school becomes a learning lab for everyone.So this is just to say, I'm pro.

  2. And Zac, I wasn't even taking it as far as teaching painting or dissection, which to me would be fascinating – and I saw a lot of this during the encienda educon talks. For a traditional district like mine, there has to be a link between PD and student outcomes. I mean, I have to present at the end of the year about how our PD model fits with district goals. And I DO think there is a link between teaching PD around a passion and student outcomes, but I know for our district it would take a lot of discussion and cajoling, so to speak. No matter what, I look forward to having those conversations with people.

  3. We did this last week. We had a student-free afternoon, and teachers were encouraged to run workshops. There was a lot of IT stuff, the upper school science teachers did some science stuff for the k-5 teachers, the art teacher did something with the value of self expression, the psychology teacher did some sessions, I did a session on Media Literacy… it was great. Not only did I learn loads, but I also felt better connected to the community of educators.

  4. Pingback: Things I Know 161 of 365: There’s a whole lot of awesome out there at Autodizactic

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