Problems Planning Professional Development

I am sitting at my laptop trying to figure out a couple of problems: 1) what to blog about, since it’s been a week since I posted something, and 2) how to plan the professional development for this coming weekend. I figured why not kill two birds with one stone and blog about the troubles I’m having (and hopefully stumble upon inspiration in doing so).

So, I’m having some difficulty planning this weekend’s Cultural Approach to History (CAH) professional development workshop. I am supposed to generate 5 topics under the general heading of “How to Present the Cultural Approach to Colleagues.” That is proving more difficult than originally expected.

How do you train someone to do what you’re doing? That, essentially, is what the workshop is about: training teachers to become CAH trainers. I’ve not given much thought to how I do what it is that I do. I just do it. Usually, I’m training folks to do some task or to look at some thing in a particular light or a unique way. This is different. This requires a bit more self-reflection. How do I do what I do? It is a good question that I don’t think I’m prepared to answer. I’ll give it a shot though.

Here’s what I have so far: I begin by setting plans or goals. Once I establish the goal, I have to think about how to achieve it. What will success look like? I then actually deliver the content in a chosen method, that varies depending on the situation, the size of the group and the expectations of the group. And then I set a plan for self-evaluating or reflecting on what went well and where there’s room for improvement. That’s only four sections though (planning, strategizing, executing and assessing). I am supposed to have five leaning sessions followed by five activity sessions. The learning sessions can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on needs.

The activity sessions require participants actually do something with information presented. First, I planned on participants actually establishing their goals for a CAH workshop. Then, establishing plans to achieve those goals. Next, outlining actually how they will go about teaching the workshop and, lastly, developing a self-assessment tool. I’ve got a general idea of where I want to go, but no idea as far as specifics.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten in two weeks. Two weeks! I don’t think I’ve ever had this much trouble planning a workshop before. Well, not that I can recall in recent memory. They could’ve cut out some memories when they resected the tumor, I suppose. In all seriousness though, I’m downright flummoxed.

Unfortunately, I’m won’t actually be presenting this weekend though. I’m getting paid to just outline just the plan for the workshop. I’m disappointed because I was looking forward to actually getting my hands dirty with teachers. There will always be next time though. I forgot that Florrie will be out of town at the GAEA Fall Conference this weekend. She’ll be presenting twice in the same weekend. The first presentation will be on “painting with crayons,” a well-rehearsed workshop that she’s done numerous times before. The second presentation will be on “making art with trash,” ala Vik Muniz. (He’s done some awesome work and if you’ve not heard of him you should check out the documentary about him, Wasteland.)

For the record, I didn’t stumble upon inspiration.  I did get a blog post though. It wasn’t a total waste.

-EGB