The Pendulum… #EdublogsClub

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a post related to constant changes and the pendulum effect in education.

Some ideas to get you started:

  • Write a post about learning styles and your thoughts on the recent research suggesting they are an ineffective teaching/learning tool.
  • Discuss another topic where you have seen the pendulum shift in your time in education.
  • Share about a subject where you have changed your mind and describe why.
  • What is the next great pendulum shift you expect to happen over the next five years?

What’s my pendulum? Hmmm… I feel I haven’t been an educator long enough to see major pendulum shift from one side, swings all the way to the other side, and then back again.

My pendulum swing is something I find constantly swinging to both sides: teacher voiced-choice in PD. In my role as a technology coach to a diverse population (various grade levels, content areas, etc), I try to give teachers choice in what they want to learn about.

So, let me backtrack a little here. Last year, my colleague, Kim Lowden, and I planned out PD sessions where we picked a central topic, let’s say digital assessment, then created resources for four subtopics. Teachers were able to select which topic interested them and explore the resources as I circulated checking in on each attendee. What was the feedback we would hear, “I had decision paralysis when choosing” or “Just tell me the one thing I should be looking at”

Now fast forward to this year. My new counter-part at the other middle school, Stacey Lindes, and I have taken that feedback and scaled down to showing one-two choices; for instance Engaging Your Students w/ Content showcased Nearpod and Pear Deck. What do I hear from my teachers… “What happened to having choices” or “Are there other items I could explore”

The pendulum swing of teacher voiced-choice goes from wanting multiple choices to explore, to give me just one option to enact. I know you can’t please everyone; I just want to plan sessions which respects their autonomy but doesn’t overwhelm with offerings.

Is there a happy medium? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

  4 comments for “The Pendulum… #EdublogsClub

  1. April 11, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Dan,
    I am a huge fan of choice, so I see your choice of either four ideas or two as a positive. Like Von said, I think using feedback to inform your next round is a good idea too. For instance, when four seems overwhelming, go to two choices the next round.

    Can’t your overall value be offering choice, as you said, ‘teacher voiced-choice”? They can learn that they will always have to take ownership–choose the one that is best for them. That will get easier for your teachers as they get used to it. I don’t think you want to give up offering choices though, just because some people want to be told what to do, but limiting the choices can help prevent decision paralysis.

    It sounds like you are doing a good job helping teachers make the most of their PD.

    Denise

    • Mr. G.
      April 11, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Denise, thank you for reading the post. I agree choice is important; I just wish sometimes the feedback wouldn’t contradict itself.

  2. Von
    April 1, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    As I read your post I think that as long as what you provide is driven by feedback you are making the best choice. If feedback shows that a particular thing is needed then that puts teachers in a position of making sure when asked they voice their concerns and trust you/your team to make professional decisions. There is no middle road here and trying to please everyone will make you exhausted and feel like your being taken for granted. So keep allowing your feedback to guide what PD sessions will be the most beneficial for your school. This was a great post! Something, I as a teacher, really need to be conscience of my own reactions to also.

    • Mr. G.
      April 3, 2017 at 8:57 am

      Von, thank you for replying to the post. I’m glad you found value in it. I try to reflect on the feedback given from my peers to inform the PD planning. As much as I would like the sessions to be structured in the sense of building a routine of choice for the teachers; I do see how that could provide an avenue of uncertainty as to where to start.

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