In my previous blog, I mentioned professional development–non-contract hours and sometimes contract hours spent learning about some new approach to education, whether it be technology, classroom management, curriculum-related, or the like. I have modified the rules I use in my own classroom to fit professional development protocol. Consider them gentle suggestions and principles to follow.
1. Be prompt. Be on time wherever your class is located. Determine ahead of time how long it will take to arrive on time or a little early. Allow time to walk from the parking lot to the main lobby.
2. Be prepared. Attend any prerequisites if necessary. Bring a couple of pens, a highlighter or two, and some paper to take notes on. I’ve recently started writing my notes in a composition notebook I decorated with some scrapbook paper to make it pretty and unique. You also want to carry a bottle of water to keep you hydrated and perhaps a lightweight sweater if the air conditioning is too efficient.
3. Be polite. Respect the opinions of other participants even if you don’t completely agree with them. We are all there for the ultimate goal–student success through the improvement of our craft of teaching. We are in an electronic age, so exercise cell phone etiquette and silence the ringer and alert noises to minimize distraction. If you must take the call, please quietly excuse yourself, and step out into the hall.
4. Be positive. Attend with the willingness to learn something new, review something old, or find yourself somewhere in between. If you enter snarling, it will spread and cause “snarl-itis,” a horrible disorder of negativity that makes faces appear mean and unfriendly. Victims of “snarl-itis” spread the bad mood in workshops, on the drive home, and with their families at home. This means that even more people are walking about snarling instead of saying, “Hello.” Don’t spread “snarl-itis!” Give a smile instead. Your presenter and fellow participants will appreciate it. Offer to help distribute handouts or fill up a water bottle. Kindness counts!
[Sidenote—No one expects you to paste a phony smile on your face if you’ve just received some terrible news. Just take it one step at a time and sometimes one minute at a time to find some kernel of goodness in whatever workshop you attend. I find I always learn something new that peaks my “little grey cells*” to work even more diligently.]
5. Be a participant. This is a principle that I will be adding to my rules this fall. Take notes, listen actively, and be a part of the discussion. Even natural introverts have something valuable to say.
*My favorite sleuth is M. Hercule Poirot, a character created by Dame Agatha Christie. I just love to read his stories and use my mind to unravel the puzzles created. This is one of his expressions that I use with my students and fairly often in my daily life.