I typically have a clear and well-thought out purpose for each blog post, however for this blog post I am going to simply reflect on today's professional development session. I lead a PD session about 7 weeks ago for all of the staff members at my high school on social media and technology integration, and today's session was an extension of the previous session for any teachers interested. We asked each staff member to choose 3 out of 4 sessions as their PD day choices. I was excited for this because I had high hopes that lots of people would want to come to my session. I thought the first PD session earlier this year went well, thus lots of teachers would want to attend my second session. Unfortunately, my high hopes were quickly extinguished as I watched the Google Doc spreadsheet I created for staff members fill up.
The sessions were filling up quite quickly...however most people were not signing up for my session. My session was only able to draw about 40 people out of 110, and my session was by far the least popular session. No matter how you slice this, this was a direct blow to my ego, and frankly to my overall self-esteem. As difficult as it is, I want to be believe the lack of interest was not because of me, but rather because the content was not applicable. This leads me to my next concern...
Without doubt I presented the power of Twitter, blogs, and a PLN with passion and heart. I showed concrete examples of how these tools can be used by educators to grow and develop. I tried to provide specific examples of how teachers can use these tools in their individual content areas. I tried to inspire, motivate, encourage, and push these educators to their limits...What could have possibly went wrong? How would these PD sessions not be a huge success? What am I missing...?
I am currently in the process of reflecting upon these sessions and my actions. I must be very clear here...I am not looking for sympathy or a pity party, nor do I want anyone to feel sorry for me. This is the natural process one must take to improve, to grow, and to evaluate something that has been done. The process can be long, bumpy, and no fun, but it is essential.
If teachers were turned off by the content being presented in my session, then what could I have done to make it more applicable, and what do I need to do to get people (re)interested? Did I have too much passion and energy during the first session (we all know people get scared off by crazy people!)? Did I scare people off by giving them too much at one time (we all know we can only handle so much at one time)? Were staff members just not ready to embrace these new technological tools (we all know people are hesitant toward change)? The answers to these questions are eluding me, and as I reflect I seem to be finding more questions without answers.
I feel strongly about embracing social media (learning) as a powerful tool toward growing and developing as an educator, and as such I want to share this tool with others. I was fortunate enough to have someone share this information with me, and I firmly believe in "paying it forward." I just want my colleagues to understand I am not pushing an agenda, nor am I getting any kickbacks for promoting social media as a PD tool. I just want to help them like I was helped. Hopefully the more I think and reflect, the sooner I will be able to find some answers. I wish all of my fellow professional development directors, coordinators, representatives, and any other educator working with PD the best of luck. We are living in a Brave New World, and as society continues to change, we will be expected to change. Good luck to all of you.