Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Purpose of Staff Development

In my Google reader today, I had a great image from Doug Johnson's The Blue Skunk Blog about staff development. How appropriate since I'm currently sitting in an in-service, a staff development session, about student intervention strategies.

So what does it say about me that I am actually blogging while a clip of Abbott and Costello doing "Who's on First?" plays? I know the clip is to demonstrate how we all need to be on the same page, we all need to use the same language, and we all need to be the experts to instruct appropriately for our students.

Is this professional growth opportunity geared toward me and my needs or is this a "sit-and-git" where all that's said today will go in one ear and out the other?

So far, the presentation has been interspersed with video clips, which unfortunately the librarian in me is questioning whether copyright laws have been broken -- yes, I'm pretty sure we need a training on copyright laws and fair use and educational use. And I definitely need to talk with my staff about Presentation Zen because the PowerPoint slides in the presentation are waaaaay too packed with words -- I'm having trouble reading them from my seat in the back of the media center.

I'm a little confused at this point. Possibly because I'm continuing to blog and have had a non-normed sidebar with my equally cynical and witty colleague. Colors. The presenters are talking about colors. Red. Yellow. Green. Blue. These coordinate with all the wonderful labels we stick on our students. Academically gifted. Special education. Limited English proficiency. Assessed but not identified. Oh, and now there's purple. Who remembers what purple was?

So how effective is such a presentation among a staff of 60 certified teachers at the end of the day? Okay, so it's not at the true end of the day. Today was an early release day, so our workshop began at 12:30 p.m. Some "lecture", some hands-on (looking at data in cumulative folders), some video clips, some handouts. They could really use a microphone. *sigh*

Core content teachers have a real opportunity to strategize, work together, determine the intervention strategies to use with students. Even the elective or specialist teachers are pulled in to the conversation, especially since they see students every day. The drawback for me and the folks at my table are that we don't fit the mold, or at least the mold for this particular staff development.

As a teacher-librarian, I work with all kids. I collaborate with teachers to integrate information literacy skills, but I don't see students in a formal instructional setting every day. Students behave differently in the less structured circulation and independent research setting of the media center. And while I recognize their varying academic needs, we meet a very different need for many students during their library visits.

So while I appreciate the workshop environment and presentation style of this particular staff development, what is the purpose of this staff development for me?

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