One of the most difficult things to do as a creator of content – lessons, activities, blog posts, videos, art . . . anything that has an audience – is to be honest with yourself when you’ve created something not worthy of your audience’s time or attention.
Tonight I spent 10 minutes recording a video and 45 minutes editing it before I realized . . . my intended audience doesn’t want this. It was longer than necessary and “clunkier” than I should accept.
So, what did I do?
I clicked delete. I was honest with myself.
Have high standards. Self-assess. Give yourself real feedback. Evaluate things honestly. Judge them based on quality and value, not the amount of time you put into them. I could’ve said “it’s not my best work, but deleting it would mean that I just wasted an hour.” First off – if we see it as an opportunity for growth, that time wasn’t wasted. And second – if it’s not your best, go back to the drawing board. Make it your best. Be honest with yourself.
Presenter: What brought you to this professional development session?
Attendee #1: I needed contact hours for my IPDP.
Attendee #2: This is something that I wanted to learn more about.
Attendee #3: My administrator said I had to come here.
Attendee #4: I want to be a better educator.
Attendee #5: I needed the credit hours.
Attendee #6: There were no other sessions that I was interested in and I had to choose something.
I was thinking about PD for educators recently and realized . . . we’re just like our students. We have varying levels of interest and, therefore, varying levels of motivation. It reminded me of Schlechty’s 5 Levels of Student Engagement. And then it hit me . . . these are also the 5 Levels of PROFESSIONAL Learner Engagement.
- Authentic Engagement—the educator is engaged and sees the PD as valuable, applicable and exciting. They want to learn this. They can’t wait to apply it in their classroom.
- Strategic Compliance—the educator needs credits or contact hours in order to receive a benefit, likely in the form of a step up on the pay scale or recognition from their peers or administrators for taking the initiative to participate.
- Ritual Compliance—the educator needs credits or contact hours in order to keep their license and/or job.
- Retreatism—the educator attends the meeting, but does not pay attention or engage in the content.
- Rebellion—the educator checks their email (or performs another task without hiding it), refuses to participate and/or complains.
Now, it may seem like I’m bad-mouthing the educators, but I’m not. I’ve probably been at each of those levels at least once myself. We all probably have. So, what does that mean? It means that I’m bad-mouthing the PD. Who can blame them for not being “authentically engaged” in the professional development? Authentic engagement is not a choice. Either the activity engages them authentically or it does not.
So . . . what do we do?
We give these professionals a say in what they learn. We give them time to explore the possibilities. We give them an opportunity to investigate what may be useful for them. We give them Dan Pink’s 3 factors of motivation: autonomy, mastery & purpose.
Because it’s what’s best for the kids. And that’s all that matters.
Learn more about the work of the late Phil Schlecthy at schlechtycenter.org.
Learn more about Daniel Pink’s phenomenal book Drive and his other work at danpink.com.
I am a believer in the power of Growth Mindset. While there are other characteristics that lead to success, I think that it is one of the biggest predictors of success, if not the single biggest predictor.
Anyhow, when a colleague of mine at Brady Middle School invited teachers to record messages to her students about our experiences with and beliefs about Growth Mindset, I jumped at the opportunity to share.
My goal was 1-2 minutes, but sometimes, when something is important to you, you have more to say. Here’s the video that I shared with them:
Don’t use duct tape just because it’s shiny. Use it because something is broken and duct tape is the appropriate tool to fix it.
Don’t use Kahoot just because it’s fun. Use it because you need to do a formative assessment and your students need to self-assess.
Don’t use a HyperDoc because you learned about it at a PD. Use it because it’s the appropriate way to organize content and create a learning opportunity around a certain standard.
Don’t use VR Headsets because they’re neat. Use them because your students need to understand a rainforest habitat.
Educational Duct Tape:
Educational Duct Tape term, quote and infographic created by me, Jake Miller. Feel free to use them, but provide attribution.
Created by me, Jake Miller. Feel free to share, but give attribution.
Image file version available here.
Often, when we are presented with a new, high-quality, research-based way to promote student learning, educators identify the obstacles. The roadblocks. The logistics.
My response to those logistical roadblocks? One of my favorite quotes, which I’ve found credited to Ryan Blair:
“If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”
Continue reading A New Acronym for PBL
I am a huge spreadsheets nerd and a huge advocate of the use of spreadsheets in mathematics instruction. If you keep an eye on my site (or Twitter feed or YouTube Channel) you’ll see plenty of my reasons why I feel this way. Here’s one:
Spreadsheets are a great tool for proving mathematical algorithms and formulas. In this post . . . how we can use a Google Sheet to prove the formula for the mean (which, in spreadsheet land, is known as the average).
Check out this post about finding and exploring all 3 measures of central tendency with Google Sheets.