For realsies

Meaningful P.D.: Make a Cake February 9, 2013

One of the buzzwords in education these days is “meaningful professional development.”  The ascent of the buzzword has been accompanied by, as any chimpanzee might have predicted, a decline in the variety and quality of said professional development.

Any P.D. that I have attended that struck me as useful or inspiring in any way is generally marginalized by the organization as an entity.  Case in point: a few years ago, I attended a week-long Character Education convention presented by some of the forerunners in this arena, who also happen to be situated within an hour of where I live and work.  There were exactly zero other employees from my district there.  It was probably the best and most relevant P.D. I have ever attended.   In the years ensuing, I have seen my urban district all but turn away from the concept of character ed,  while I have seen violence in the spirit of students set in earlier and stronger every year.

Most P.D. these days, at least where I am, tells educators what “We now know, ” and the fact that the P.D. we received a year or two earlier is no longer best practice, and that if we don’t incorporate a, b, and c, our rating in our evaluation will be career-threatening.  So we do what we are told to do, regardless of whether our experience, knowledge, intuition or  philosophy agree or not.  And the test scores plummet, or, at best, stay the same.

I did receive a helpful tidbit at a workshop I attended a few years ago.  The presenter, a lovely, retired teacher, said that she made her family a chocolate cake every Sunday.  Not just in retirement, but while she was a teacher.  This would imply that she did not spend every waking hour on a Sunday attempting to create lesson plans that provide evidence for every detail of a rubric of teacher performance, while leaving out any possibility of shifting a schedule, taking extra time to teach concepts, or acknowledging that a student could experience some kind of growth or success that might still not be reflected in an increasingly difficult high-stakes assessment.

Sunday, for today’s teachers, can feel like insanity.

Making a chocolate cake, stepping away from the madness—that makes sense to me.

Crazy Cake seems fitting, and they used to make it in the Depression. If you link to the photo, you will find yourself in the middle of a recipe for Wacky Cake. So that’s what’s happening here.  A day ahead of schedule.





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