I get it.
While my purpose here in Philadelphia is to learn how to be a better English teacher, I find that the sessions offered have not had as much impact as other forms of professional development in my life.
I’m currently sitting near the window in my hotel room (a very old building that has been well maintained; one cannot help but appreciate the elegant history) I can hear the marathon being run outside. No, not the sound of the running participants but the incessant shouting and cheering of the supportive crowd. Actually, as I was waking up and still groggy, I thought my neighbors were listening to The Price is Right loudly on their television! 🙂
My point is that it suddenly makes sense to me why the informative sessions have been useful but not life altering or as exhilarating as I had anticipated. What has been more important are my connections to fellow teachers on twitter and on the English Companion Ning.
They are my supportive, shouting crowd. “You’re doing great!” and “You can get through this – you will make it!” Just like the crowd below.
What would the marathon be without these people? How do they impact their runners? (Certainly we could ask Jen Ansbach!) How different would it be if they were running alone?
Teachers are often forced to run alone in the island that is their classrooms. And how many flounder as a result of this? For me, I have met some of the most amazing teachers in the country and have felt guided and supported by them. Teaching should be about more than just our own students, but about the collective. When we support other teachers, we are ultimately helping even more students to have opportunities for success.
What a terrific experience it has been to meet my own cheerleaders and counselors. What a lonely trip this would have been if not for them. What a lonely profession.
So I’m here to say thank you and to look for more ways that I can support other teachers through this most rewarding and challenging of careers. Thanks. 🙂
But wait, there’s more! So much of what I heard in sessions was information or ideas that I had already gained from my online networks. One cannot help but wonder if 24/7 PD like this is going to replace some of what these types of conventions are about in the same way that the internet is slowly killing printed newspapers.
Why only learn a few special times a year (and OD on info at those times!) when one can learn as we can handle it. I love watching for new articles, links, and teaching strategies but I only read as much as I can understand or implement at a time. Often, it’s even more personal than this, however. Often, I am able to learn how to do something new AS the issue or question arises.
Here, I am supposed to find a whole slew of relevant but different sessions and cram them into to a few hectic days. But online I can find the information in tidbits. Better than that, I can ask my colleagues (PLN) what they think or if they can help me develop a deeper understanding.
The advantages of timeliness and of reciprocity seem to be some of the most fundamental needs of “21st century learners”. Teachers need to be part of this!