June 10, 2012 by readlisaread
I’ve have occasion often to think about engagement, buy-in and attitude. In my day job (Middle School) it’s a constant challenge to keep my learners interested, an even greater challenge at times to draw my colleagues into an important conversation that doesn’t devolve into a learned-hopelessness type shrugging of shoulders and sighing “We can’t change the system anyway….”. Escaping a system, or experiencing a different one, seems to be the only way to shake off the attitude that permeates the institution. Public Education is a great system in a lot of ways, but it certainly has a culture that, even if understood, is hard to not be mired down by by the climate of negativity.
I was comparing professional development opportunities recently, having been asked to present a workshop at a conference mainly attended by Post Secondary instructors and program developers for university and college. What a treat to share information with people who come to the session vested in finding something out, learning something new, or sharing their own experiences. We were all the “Experts”. It was an atmosphere of generosity and communication. And I noticed a startling difference to most “teacher” conferences I attend. There was no “swag”, there were no door prizes, there was no evaluation forms to fill out or “bribes” to entice people to stay. There was an understanding that we were all there to share with one another, and of COURSE I wouldn’t sit and check my email during a session, because I didn’t want to miss learning something, nor sharing something that might be valuable. The energy and excitement in the air was about being THERE, it wasn’t about not being somewhere else. It was professionals being excited about networking and learning and sharing and connecting….all the things that make Professional Development awesome. A logo-emblazoned reusable shopping bag filled with advertisements and coupons is not, actually, the reason to show up. And perhaps I’m bitter about the door prizes, because I rarely win them… but I don’t know…. I think my joy at being there could not have been enhanced by winning a USB drive or a Hat.