Feeling Fully Serviced

Well, I’m still functioning (thank you lizard brain!) after four six-hour PD days.  I could whine more about this, but my last post was more than sufficient.  So I think I’ll try to tease a few of the pieces that I think may be useful out of my memory.

The 1/2 day math session consisted of a consultant coming in the share a few nifty hands-on tricks with us and bemoan teachers’ poor skills at math instruction while simultaneously celebrating the profession’s importance (okay, maybe a little whining, but don’t you get tired of that old saw?).  She introduced the idea of using area-model multiplication flash cards with students to help them visualize and understand those math facts, which I thought was outstanding.  We spent a fair amount of time doing place value work using the centimeter cubes, sticks, and flats.  It was fun, but the time was clearly based on the premise that we were not doing anything authentic or hands-on with our students.

Dr. Marty Burns delivered a nearly 3 hour lecture on “Struggling Readers and the Brain” which had an interesting section on how to help activate chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine that promote longer-lasting neural connections/learning by doing things like giving positive reinforcement and moving near students or making physical contact like a hand on the shoulder.  And of course she spent some time in subtle promotion of the Fast ForWord program that my district has shelled out the big bucks for with great hopefulness.  How’s it working?  Depends on who you ask.

We spent a 1/2 day being introduced to the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) model.  This was useful in that it gave us time as a professional community to reflect on how behavior management looks at a systemic level.  My building has a very successful system in place that mirrors aspects of the PBS model already, so it was also a time for us to celebrate our past success.  Never enough of that in the teaching biz, at least not the genuine kind that doesn’t involve sucking up to the Powers that Be.

And lots of building agenda items, from changes in scheduling to the annual “we have no money” speech to scheduling bake sales.  The best of it was just coming together again, catching up on news and commiserating over past and future challenges, and just being among people who really get it–the good, the great, the painful, and the mundane that mix together in our teaching days.

I’ve got a few more hours to spend before my classroom is just right.  And I look forward to sleeping late and playing at the beach over the weekend.  But mostly, I just want to get to that fantastic day next week when I can stand in the hallway and watch the kids wash in, a wave of first-day jitters and shy smiles and possibilities that seem endless.


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