Saturday, June 27, 2015

Professional Development for NGSS

Professional developments can be a hit or miss.  Often times you show up and get maybe one tip/trick that you can use.  Maybe you will get one good lesson, a handout, or technique.  Sometimes you walk away knowing that you just wasted yet another day on a training that was absolutely useless.  I have found that most trainers do NOT model good teaching practice.  They are dry, boring, drone on, don't allow participation, or treat us as if we are stupid.  We often end up spending most of our time trying to secretly grade papers, lesson plan, or just zone out.  I have a really hard time listening to someone who is no longer a teacher.  Someone who has been out of the classroom too long, in my opinion, will forget the day to day challenges of running a class.  Not only that, they are unable to experience the ever evolving student population (which is CRITICAL to understand in order to deliver meaningful lessons).  And I absolutely can't stand the presenter that states, "The research shows...."  Ya know what?  That research doesn't work with my students.

Though NGSS is exciting, the standards are like nothing we have ever seen before. They are very complicated and this is NOT something that can be picked up over night.  I was curious...what NGSS PD opportunities are out there right now?   Not enough.

We are almost a year away from rolling out NGSS full time in the classroom, and most of us are in a holding pattern.  I have been very fortunate that my district has provided numerous training opportunities for the science teachers, including attending NSTA, but when I talk to other science teachers, they know slim to nothing about NGSS.  Heck, most districts don't even know if they are going to have integrated vs traditional classes.

I recently had the opportunity to host a workshop for science teachers.  I served more as a facilitator than a traditional trainer, basically providing the teachers the opportunity to be guided through the day then allowed them to design lessons using the NGSS.  It was a blast.   These educators whom I had never met opened up and trusted me.  We were able to have excellent conversations.  My concerns were their concerns.  We were able to talk shop because all of us were in the same boat.

I don't trust anyone to tell me how to teach NGSS because most are not teaching it yet thus there is absolutely no data to support what works and what doesn't work.  My take away...as NGSS continues to approach, professional development opportunities might simply need a facilitator to get everyone pointed in a uniform direction, task oriented.  Traditional trainers that drive some sort of "proven" curriculum to teachers might just be a thing of the past.  I guess we shall see.