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Thursday, October 26, 2006

A good idea for PD presenters for RCWP/Liz Webb

10/26/06

This is Liz Webb saying “Hi” to all of my RCWP colleagues. (For those of you who know me, can you believe I am blogging?!!!!!!!)

I am thrilled to be participating in the NWP Tapped-In conversation with Troy as to how to improve the NWP offerings of professional development to our constituent districts and how to be a more efficient and effective NWP site. The conversation is extensive and informative if perhaps a little overwhelming as 50 people from the NWP network are weighing in on these matters.

I’m able to be here because I’ve recently retired from the public schools (an excruciating decision because as of June of this year I still loved being in the room with teenagers), so I now have time to do some consulting for the RCWP. I’m currently doing presentations on Writing Workshop at the HS level at Jackson and Lansing with Troy, Ninna, Joe and Marcia. I like it almost as much as I liked teaching, but now feel as though I have the time to do it without overwhelming myself. AND, I don’t have to get up at 5A.M. everyday, although on days when I do consulting I’m often up at 3A.M.

From time to time I will post some interesting ideas I’ve found that I think would be of benefit to all of us. My favorite one so far came from TanyaB, a doctoral student in Maine. She was responding to the question of how we can get teachers who are less than enthusiastic to buy into what they may consider to be “flavor of the week” in-service presentations.

“Hi Todd,
Your question raises so many conflicting thoughts for me. I noticed in a call out in Because Writing Matters (p. 66): "The NWP provides efficient and effective staff development to TEACHERS WHO WISH TO IMPROVE their students' performance in writing." I made a note of that: do we only reach teachers who want to improve? Should we be reaching other teachers? Are teachers who don't want to change reachable by any means?
A couple of years ago I was working with a teacher leader who had done a lot of very good work with peer coaching. She had us do something she called the "commitment protocol" (if I can find it, I'll post it, but I can't find it right now). She asked us first to work with a partner and just complain about the worst thing at school right now. Our partner was to just listen and respond however s/he might naturally (we each got a turn). Next we were to complain again, but this time our partner's job was to name our commitments that the complaint revealed. ie. complaining about interruptions, I see that you are committed to quality blocks of instructional time. Then the partner was to ask what we felt we had the power and energy to do to honor our own commitments. This presenter then asked us then to imagine the most sullen and cranky colleague we worked with. She reminded us that that person had commitments s/he was attached to. . . if s/he didn't CARE about school or students ! or the subject s/he taught, she wouldn't be so sullen. . . This was a powerful way of both understanding my own commitments, but also revisioning teachers I had seen as not participatory or involved.
I have always been good at asking teachers to examine the context for learning to think about WHY students might not be very motivated. I have sometimes had to work harder to think about my colleagues with as much generosity.I wonder what professional development experiences we can/do provide that help teachers to meet their own commitments/goals?” Tanya B

I (Liz) was so taken with this idea for changing negatives to positives that I thanked her for it.

“Tanya,
I hope you find the protocol you are carefully describing here as I would love to see it in full, although your description is a fine start. It reminds me of the idea that to be known is the first step in being respected. When we could have a vehicle for actually turning complaints into a positive statement of commitment, we would be well on the way to begin building a learning community of teachers no matter how harsh or negative the personal school/classroom concerns might be. In small groups I think an opening that invites teachers to voice concerns makes them feel as though someone is actually listening and it is a first step to breaking down resistance to what may be perceived as the ideas of an outsider. Turning the negatives into positives as you describe is an excellent start or extension of that idea. I think this could even be used in larger groups. Thank you for the stellar idea.” Liz


So for all of you presenters at RCWP, you might want to add this to your repertoire. I know I will.

Metaphors be with you.

Liz Webb

3 Comments:

Blogger cathy said...

Liz- your commentary really hit home with me. Our staff is experiencing some growing pains, or maybe a more accurate description is lack of growth pains. Anyway, the disconnect between the factions is pretty tense. This came at a perfect time, and I shared it with several like-minded folks in the hope that we can start a discussion toward reconciling all the opinions and resistance to flavors of the week, and with the generosity you mention. It might seem easier to only reach the reachable, although how much more effective we might be if we use this perspective. Thanks so much. Cathy

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Pal,
I can't believe you are blogging--and I am reading and commenting!
What fun.
I called you this morning (Nov. 16) and realized you had already left for Nashville. We leave tomorrow for CA, so let's try to connect via cell phone.
XO,
Kathryn

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Pal,
I can't believe you are blogging--and I am reading and commenting!
What fun.
I called you this morning (Nov. 16) and realized you had already left for Nashville. We leave tomorrow for CA, so let's try to connect via cell phone.
XO,
Kathryn

3:12 PM  

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