Reflections on an SDD – an outsider’s view

Having attended my first staff development day (SDD) today, I thought I would blog about my experience as an outsider and a newbie on the scene.

We started the day with a ramble from out principal which culminated in his giving us some advice about the primary way in which we should be influencing our students: “being an example of someone who has it together”. Apparently going into the classroom stressed doesn’t set a good example of how students should be handling life.

Wow. What we construed from that was that we should have a professional facade which we don when things go wrong in our lives. But my god, it was certainly a rough way to start a day.

Then we had some thrilling activities which got us to match the punishment to the “crime” as it were. This exercise, and the responses of many of the groups, really represents one of the biggest issues I have with the current education system. Instead of doing such an activity, why didn’t the deputies ask us to think about ways to motivate these same students to be on task instead of disturbing others, or how to design an activity to engage these students? I figure if those who are the leaders in our system can’t think past classroom “control”, how can we expect teachers to?

What I did enjoy about the day was the way in which the head teacher of the English faculty inspired his faculty to structure their unit programming around the habits of mind. Introducing students to lifelong skills and embedding such skills as critical and flexible thinking into the curriculum is essential to developing students who can tackle the important social issues which will face them on a daily basis.

Something which I gleaned from these faculty discussions was that the teachers all have the most honourable of intentions in regards to being innovative, being reflective, and developing programs which reflect solid pedagogy. The resistance wasnt to the new ideas; it was with the concrete manifestation. What we were struggling with was the WAY in which we could implement these habits of mind in a lesson.

It was so nice to see the English staff being the group who were keen to embrace a new curriculum framework (habits of mind skills), hopefully this will translate into some solid programming and we have something innovative to share with the rest of the education community!