I have shared parts of this story before, but it has been stuck in my head for awhile and I wanted to create a solution to a problem…
After a group of students introduced me to speak at an event, they started walking out the door of the auditorium, when I basically started begging them to stay and listen to what I had to share. They didn’t seem too excited about the prospect, so I promised them that if it sucked, I would take them all out for lunch at the Dairy Queen a block away. They stayed, excited about the idea of a free lunch, but luckily, I never had to pay up. They were blown away by what I shared and had hoped that this would start making its way into classrooms.
While I sat with them over lunch, one student said this to me:
If teachers are doing this on these days that we are not here, why are they not getting any better?
I have not been able to stop thinking about this in terms of education since. The student had a wonderful point. This is time and money invested, so what is the return on investment and how is it benefitting students? If the professional learning days and times are not directly benefitting students, is this ultimately a waste of resources? It also makes me think about how much time we talk in circles about ideas, yet do not necessarily move forward with them. Action creates change, not discussing action.
As I thought about it, here are two questions I think that educators should think about at the end of any conference, professional learning day, or even Twitter chat:
How beneficial would it be that after a professional learning day at a school, that educators would talk about what they learned and how it would help them become a better educator with the students? This does not only put an onus on every educator to own their own learning, but for the person(s) delivering, designing, or leading the professional learning day to have accountability to the students we ultimately serve as well.
This should go beyond “I am going to use this new app”, as that is surface level learning. It might not be something that you will do right away, but something that is at least pushing your thinking. Yet, simply having that conversation with the students helps to create an accountability to them. Isn’t that who we ultimately serve in the first place?