Monday, January 12, 2015


I was meeting one-on-one with a high school teacher this morning.  She unintentionally provided me with some clarity.  I like clarity.  Clarity is a preference of mine.

During our time together there came a point when she wanted to stop.  She didn't want to stop because she was overwhelmed or "over it."  Those things sometimes happen in traditional professional learning situations.  She actually wanted to stop for all of the right reasons.  She said "stop" (very respectfully, by the way) because she needed time, even if it was just a few moments.

Time to think/rethink.

Time to contemplate.

Time to create a question for me and/or my colleagues or (better yet) create an effective (or more effective) question for their students.

Time to reflect.

Time to retool.

Time to question.

Time to enhance.

Time for clarity.  (There's that word again.)

Time to plan.

Time to explore.

Time to create.

Time to transform.  (That's my favorite.)

She has this right.  I intentionally encouraged this structure.  I always encourage this structure whenever it's possible.  The silence while she thought, created, planned, etc. was truly golden.  This, in my opinion, is truly essential in what we do and how we do it.  If we don't meet with teachers individually or at least in smaller groups it becomes more complicated (and sometimes impossible) for teachers to say "stop" (or at least a version of "speed up" or "slow down") if that's what they need from us at that moment.

It, at the same time, becomes more difficult for teachers to be "done" for all the right reasons too.  Perhaps some of the participants in a large group setting already know and effectively integrate what we're demonstrating.  Small group and individual learning situations naturally allow teachers to advocate for themselves and the students they teach when they need to advocate for themselves and the students they teach.  On the other hand, in large group/large time window situations, if specific needs aren't being met that means the teacher will most likely check out.  That means time to catch up on email.  And I honestly don't blame them for sometimes doing just that.

Creating more opportunities (through small group and individualized professional learning) for our teachers to say "stop" for all of the right reasons is a challenge, but in the end the adult learners we work with will feel empowered.  They will feel like they have some control.  They will be more confident and effective.  And they will intentionally pass along those feelings along to their students.

In the grand scheme of things, I think I might like that the most.