Back in the day...after I completed my middle school student teaching placement, I vowed to do my best to avoid teaching middle school again. Ever. Of course in real life, we take the job that is offered, so newly married and expecting my child, I took a job teaching eighth and ninth grade French. Well the undeniable thing about middle school age students is that they grow on you...perhaps like a fungus, but nevertheless it's a truly unique experience. After several years, our district shifted the ninth grade to the high school, and I became a traveling teacher. I adapted. Several years after that, due to a scheduling change, I was teaching exclusively at the high school. I adapted. Now, again several years later, another scheduling change, and I will be four classes out of five back at the middle school.
The first two days before students begin their school year are reserved for professional development. The first PD handout to catch my eye as I walked into the middle school cafetorium was a Thinking Map with "Teacher as Facilitator" at the center. That was the moment that my apprehension fell away, and I truly felt like I was back home. I am thrilled to be back in the midst of a group of teachers and administrators looking at the learning process in this way.
Now although I was pleasantly surprised, I admittedly was not entirely looking forward to these two days. Although billed as PD, what they usually are, in total honesty, are a series of long meetings that accomplish little. Still, several years ago, having sat through countless hours of minimally valuable PD, I made it a personal goal to walk away with at least one new and useful tool or concept to run with.
So that is my challenge to you. Your school-sponsored PD may not give you a feeling of homecoming like I had this morning, but at your next PD gathering, make a point to find at least one new and useful tool or concept you can add to your teaching bag of tricks.