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50 Minutes

What do you do during “PD day?” So, the other day we had a day of “Professional Development” also known as a “PD day.” We came in, had breakfast, and prepared to sit through a day of workshops. The first part of the day was designated to a keynote speaker who came to talk about teaching in urban areas. I was so excited because, FINALLY, it was something I was really interested in . I went into my mode, and started taking notes on key things that were being said that stood out to me. 

I look around and see most of my fellow colleagues paying earnest attention. No cell phones were really out, everyone seemed pretty engaged. Even some people who had originally expressed their lack of interest in being there were genuinely paying attention.

An hour and a half into the pd, and I look around and see a few people have disengaged. A couple people were checking their phones, but overall most of the audience was still there mentally. People were asking questions, and even in my nosey moment I was super focused and still taking notes. I mean I felt like my inner me was screaming, “yasssss, say that again.”

Hour 3 into the pd, and we’ve discussed several different topics. But I was finding my mind wandering. Not completely off of the topic being discussed, but wandering none the less. Having whole conversations with myself in my head as to how to apply some of the strategies we were being given. Or thinking, this would be a nice chart to hang in my classroom, and about my relationships and rapport with my students. I mean reallllyyyy wandering. BARE WITH ME IM ALMOST TO THE POINT OF THE STORY.

I look around and my colleagues have cell phones out in clear view. Some are having mini convos, and some were in their own world. Kind of like I was. And instantly I started to think about our students. Here we are, grown adults and we literally couldn’t sit through a 3 and half hour PD without being distracted or losing interest. We were given a 5 minute break here, a ten minute break there and still couldn’t stay focused. Yet everyday we expect these teenagers to come to school and sit in our 50 minute classes, completely engaged and focused. We expect them not to talk at all. “Oh and you better not get out of your seat to do anything.” Bell to bell instruction.

Let’s not mention that before our class they were held to those same standards in 4 classes in a row. Given a 4-5 minute “break” to walk up 4 flights of stairs and through crowded hallways just to be graced with the opportunity to sit through another 50 minute class. I’ve been guilty of this myself, finding myself getting annoying like “Why won’t these kids just stop talking.” “Why won’t they just come in and sit down and get started?!” Uhhh maybe it’s because that’s all they’ve been doing all day! Sitting in a seat, silently, copying notes and answering questions. Maybe because something happened and in the hallway between classes and they just have to get it off their chest.

By no means am I saying don’t have norms and rules or procedures for your students. I just think that sometimes as teachers we forget what it’s like to be a student. What it was like to wait until 4th period, where you have a class with your friend to tell them about this girl/guy you had a crush on, or about your weekend. Or what it was like to sit through a day of back to back classes, some you loved and others you hated.

That’s what the PD did for me. It reminded me that no matter how interested the student is in your class, 50 minutes is a long time and sometimes students just need those 2 minutes to let it all out so that they can be productive students.

I would love to hear (well read) your thoughts, comments, and/or similar experiences. Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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Am I the only educator who still gets the first day of school jitters? I mean I’m going into my 9th year of teaching and still find myself rather restless the night before and morning of the first day


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