For so many, it is approached with trepidation, reluctance, and even fear.
I understand why.
Long, pointless meetings are awful.
Learning doesn't happen like that.
Not for students, and not for us.
But I have worked really hard to change that.
In my building, we have worked really hard to change that.
Over the years, there have definitely been improvements.
We used a really elaborate year long team system for awhile.
It was a huge improvement.
With some drawbacks: teachers who lead and don't get to learn being the biggest.
So, we moved to an elaborate short term system.
Which had fewer drawbacks: mostly the labor intensive and complicated set-up.
Now, we have begun moving towards more conference and unconference style sessions, with big chunks of time built in for teachers to work.
Because, yeah, we need that.
I like it.
Maybe I'm biased.
After all, I help plan these things...and it is MUCH easier.
Beyond that, though, it feels more effective.
I rarely see anyone rushing about in a panic.
Fewer and fewer individuals sit in corners buried in their own paperwork.
The whole tenor is both more positive and more relaxed. Happier, easier, more fun.
The feedback indicates people appreciate the work time.
Sessions are led by volunteers who also participate as learners.
Days later, I hear people continuing conversations they started that day.
I see people using what they learned as I wander the building observing, other teachers.
Today was one of those days.
I especially liked our closing activity.
Teachers were asked to report to a central location.
Once there, they were handed a single sheet of paper.
On it was a blank for a name and two columns:
Who did you talk to? and What idea did that person share?
That was it.
The directions were simple.
Collect ideas from those who you normally don't talk to every day.
Write them down.
Turn in your paper.
There will be a drawing and then your notes will be returned to you.
Random volunteers were recruited to hand out these papers are people arrived.
No other instructions were given.
I did that on purpose.
I wanted to see what would happen.
It pretty much went the way I thought it would.
For about twenty minutes, there was a flurry of conversations, walking about, and writing things down.
Then, people started asking me what to do next.
I pointed to an empty container.
It caught on quickly.
Simply turn in your sheet and you are done for the day.
The pleasantly surprised looks I got from almost everyone made it fun for me.
There is always a lot of grumbling about forced sharing exercises.
I get it. Sometimes they suck.
On the other hand, talking helps us process, which helps us learn.
Talking to people whose stance and ideas we don't already have intimate knowledge of from daily contact improves the processing, and the learning.
Going to work on election day is NOT a good thing.
Seeing people engage and learn anyway, is a very good thing.