Wrestling With An Octopus

If you are at all like me, you are already thinking about heading back into the classroom and the details of what that will look and feel like for your students.  I have an added dimension to plan for – a station rotation model using a set of Chromebooks.  Great news but holy moly, what direction do I run in first???  As I research resources, talk to colleagues who have some experience with this, read about best practices, and reference my CCSS aligned curriculum I am quickly overwhelmed.  Yes, my new reality is like a many tentacled octopus – and we are definitely wrestling!

Perhaps it is the expectations that I am placing on myself.  Never one to dip a toe into the water when I could just cannonball right in, I have quite a list of goals for myself and my students.  I have also offered to be a resource for other teachers to further their professional development.  Along the way I will be blogging, maintaining a website, creating learning portfolios to document the experiences of some of my students, and trying to figure out if my teaching is actually more effective as a result of this change.  The list is a teensy bit long but I am not ready to ditch any of it,…. yet.

My real problem is information overload.  For each of the tasks I listed for myself above, there are about a gazillion sub-topics, videos, hints, tips, tweets, blogs, books, and podcasts.  My brain hurts….

Maybe I need to stop looking, but I am one of those people who really struggles to do that. You know, the perfect resource could be right there, just beyond that next click.  I swear, its like gambling!  I am addicted to clicking.  There it is, that is my problem.  I am a serial clicker.  I’m glad we figured that out.

Let’s face it, I am going to have to pull my act together – August 25th is looming large!

A Worthwhile Read – PD Style

Reading for professional learning and growth can be frustrating.  While authors need to convince readers that they know what they are talking about and that the content they are presenting is true and backed up by research, this can often lead to dense, slow, and overly-detailed writing.  There are two types of PD reads – theory and practice – and there are lots and lots of offerings out there.  It is important to think about what you want to come away with after your reading when making your choice.

It can be difficult at times to tell what you are going to get when you order some of these books.  While the description might sound appropriate, I have had multiple experiences with receiving a book that is much more theory than I had anticipated.  I truly appreciate it when publishers like Heinemann and Stenhouse allow me to see some of the book before purchase so I can avoid this disappointment.

I have to confess that I am an impatient reader when engaged in reading for PD.  I am all about improving my practice as an educator.  As a classroom teacher I have a specific agenda when I sit down with one of these books and that is to take away some concrete tools, ideas, and techniques to use to improve student learning and experiences.  Given that I have limited personal funds to spend on PD books I have some criteria I use when choosing.  I look for:

  • clear organization
  • real world examples of use with students in multiple content areas
  • access to actual files, copies of the tools used or explained in the book, a dedicated website, and/or study guide

Nothing makes me happier than finding a professional book that I can dig into!  There is a real excitement in finding a new technique that I think will open my kids’ eyes or enhance their learning.  Here are some of my favorites: