Not counting the end-of-year AP U.S. History readings, I’ve been to more off-campus professional development workshops and conferences in the last five weeks than I was able to attend in my last three years at Robinson.
And how many workshops have I attended in the past few weeks? Two.
Robinson – and Cabarrus County Schools at large, I imagine – was infested by what my friend and former colleague Laura Huffman once called a “culture of no.” Requests for workshop registration fees, maps and books to supplement instruction, and substitutes that would allow for workshop attendance or collaborative planning were almost always rejected. And while I was allowed to attend the AP Reading, I would be made to take personal or unpaid leave for the days I missed. But hey, that annual “Teacher Appreciation Day” luncheon of catered Carrabba’s sure was good!
So when RTHS English teacher and fellow Rebel Rebel Alliance member Deb Brown came to me in the fall with a plan to apply for a week-long residency at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching for us to work on humanities-related flipped videos, I was skeptical. Surely they wouldn’t let both of us leave for an entire week, right?
Not only did he approve our trip to Cullowhee for the week once we were accepted, but we didn’t have to pay for our substitutes either. Since there’s very little supplemental video material already in existence for the humanities, Deb and I spent the entire week working on flipped videos for our classes as well as sketching out 10th grade curricula for English and social studies.
And then, this past week, I was able to get away for two days with Mamie Hall, the other half of the history department, for the annual North Carolina Council for the Social Studies conference in Greensboro. We spent a couple of days going to seminars mostly about implementing technology in the classroom, although I did spend some time in one very unproductive session on the new Measures of Student Learning exams, which just devolved into teachers bitching almost immediately.
Sometimes, teachers just need to get out of the classroom for a few days – not only to recharge and rest up, but also to chew the fat with colleagues and learn new and/or better ways of teaching. I’m glad I teach at a place that recognizes the importance of that.
And they’re letting me go to the AP Reading in June too.