Pablo Picasso was part of a revolutionary art movement called Cubism. A majority of his paintings took an ordinary subject or event and divided it up in a brand new way to show multiple perspectives. This approach was a radical change from the fixed point of view used by artists before him. As with most sweeping changes, science and technology had a hand in it.
Professional development is also on the cusp of change in education. Teachers are becoming weary of the old PD which often delivers new initiatives handed down from the district or state that further reduces teacher freedom in the classroom. However, technology is making its mark in this arena. In order to feel more in control and to seek teaching tips, teachers are utilizing PD from other teachers around the world to stay in the game.
One aspect of my professional life that I would like to be more proactive about is helping my colleagues take back ownership of their classroom by controlling what they want to learn in order to improve their teaching. The challenge in this is to empathize with them about all the demands we have placed on us while at the same time asking them to consider a change in approach so they feel joy again in the classroom. Defenses are quick to go up on any additional request for time because learning new things takes time. Teachers within one building are often at vastly different points in their personal and professional lives. Some years are better than others to tackle change and we all know that teachers are already change experts. It’s a natural part of the job.
Just like Picasso, I would love to find the magic components to convince my colleagues that there are new ways of seeing and doing what is already very familiar to us. For example, technology in the hands of children can actually free up time for more student-teacher conferencing. Or the fact that technology takes the burden off of teachers to be all-knowing because the children are so eager to seek and analyze information for themselves. Or the freedom of saying goodbye to a pet project or part of the day because you have to let something go in order to let something new in.
I have a hard sell ahead of me in two weeks: introducing the power of personal PD via Twitter. Alternately, I could speak to using Twitter for parent engagement but I don’t currently use it that way. Those using Twitter among our staff are using it to report out school news or learning. How do I entice them to use Twitter when it often consumes precious time outside the contractual hours? I’m trying to find the gold to get a few more teachers willing to try Twitter out as a means of expanding professional development. It needs to be a million dollar proposition. I certainly have plenty of examples of the benefits but what I need advice on is how they can use it while not taking away from their time-starved personal life. I will take any advice out there, but understand that I have no more than 10 minutes to sell it!
The Picasso drawing below isn’t characteristic of his Cubist work but the symbolism of the dove with female illustrates the grand challenge I have before me- bring a message of hope that new changes to our practice, such as Twitter, can give us greater autonomy in the classroom and a wider network of support!