PD has a bad reputation.
It is often just plain painful.
Hour after hour of having someone reading a PowerPoint to the audience.
Or forced group activities that feel terribly artificial.
As a PD person, I try to avoid creating such monstrosities.
As a member of a staff, I do not get such choices.
So when I was told we would be joining a principal retreat for a day, I wasn't too hopeful.
But I was pleasantly surprised.
It wasn't nearly as boring as I feared.
Actually, most of it was pretty fabulous.
Thought-provoking, interesting, generally good.
The morning was a session on trauma-informed practices.
There wasn't a ton of practical ideas, but the ideas were there.
The presenter was engaging.
It felt like everyone in the room ended with a similar mindset.
That, in and of itself, is a pretty awesome accomplishment.
The afternoon was equity training.
We were given a chance to have real, painful, honest conversations.
I loved it.
Not everyone thought it was a great use of time.
But most of the people I spoke with were pleased we were finally having the conversations about race, and money, and privilege.
At first, I was seated with a group near the front but off to one side.
The best part about that was being by the wall so I could stand most of the time.
Then the presenter told me I was in the wrong group.
I wasn't, I was on the list twice.
It was a little embarrassing for both of us, but I moved without a fuss.
My new group was right in the middle of the room.
After that, I had to stay on my butt.
I did get out my spinner, though, and no one seemed to mind.
The conversations were rich and raw.
So many people find conversation a waste of time.
It feels like nothing is getting done.
I tend to disagree.
Talking is how you build community.
Its how you establish trust and vision and commonality.
Conversation is the first step.
If you stop there, it is a waste of time.
But if you never stop and talk, you build everything else on a shaky foundation.