Every teacher knows that you have to differentiate your instruction to meet the diverse needs of all students in our classrooms. Well, my students are really teachers and they are just as diverse, if not more so, than the students I used to serve. So, shouldn't it stand to reason that we should differentiate our professional development for teachers too? Let's all say it together...yes! And just as in the classroom, it's easy to say, but sometimes tough to accomplish.
For our Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) trainings last year, I had everyone in grades 3-8 for two full release days. Every teacher for two full days. Can I just say that I love my district for being forward thinking in terms of getting our teachers ready for the NGSS? Some districts haven't started any training yet, so I'm incredibly thankful that we're on the ball. Those training days consisted of roughly fifty teachers and I in a room at a time. Not the easiest environment or the best teacher to student ratio for differentiation, but you know what? It was great. Teachers left happy (that alone was a huge deal) and they left with specific lessons and strategies they could implement in their classrooms. As a starting point, it was a success.
This year, though, I wanted to do something different. We will still do just one whole-grade-level-together release day. We'll ditch the second day in favor of some site-based differentiated professional development. Sounds nifty, doesn't it? The tricky part is, how do we do that? And by that I mean, how do I do that? It's just me and 450ish teachers after all and while I'm the woman of steele, I'm still human and I require sleep and time to do my own homework.
So, the plan as it currently stands is to set a date to visit each grade level's PLC to discuss the team's strengths and opportunities for growth. We'll set a return date and they'll be provided with half-day subs to enable me to work with that grade level team for a chunk of time. So, instead of having 450+ teachers, now I have 68 grade level teams to manage. Sounds a lot better...but still daunting. Can I do it? I sure hope so! But then again, as a trainer this week reminded me, hope is not a strategy. This could be interesting!