The last Wednesday in June was my last class to fulfill the requirements for my language arts endorsement. To me, it’s a big money grab by both colleges and the state. I earned a reading endorsement, but in order to teach in the middle school in our “reading/language arts” class, that reading endorsement did nothing for me. In fact, had I gotten the language arts endorsement first, I could teach reading, but not the other way around. Don’t get me started on what a screw job all of this is.

The class itself was fine, I met some really awesome people, but it’s not anything I would have taken if I had the choice (Literature: Birth thru Adolescence). As we educator push forward in the face of all that is “educational reform”, choice is a big deal.  Giving students some ownership in what it is they are learning gives them the buy-in we need to help them learn and grow. That’s why I was really excited to have Patio PD come across my email.

Last year, Patio PD, facilitated by Jarod Bormann (@jbormann3), is an offshoot of the Personal PD program he does with school districts (check out his blog about PD). If it sounds low key, it certainly is. We need to be at three face to face meeting, either in person or via Skype/G-Hangout/Zoom, something where we can talk to those in the group. We have to be willing to share what we’ve learned through some form of social media. And we have to have a good attitude while doing it. Ok, that last one was mine, but seriously,  that’s truly it. No papers, no busy work, just three hours of time each week in which to collaborate, ask questions, and learn from each other. Last Sunday was the first Sunday I went, and four of us talked through standards-based grading, Voxer/Twitter/some social media, and Google Photos. My plan was working with assessment, unit design, or best practice with 8th grade literacy, but the topics discussed were right in my wheelhouse so, that’s where my focus went. Now, the research I’m doing at home still dealing with those topics, but that’s what the Patio part is all about. It’s relaxed, there’s no one looking over your shoulder, and honestly, I didn’t feel myself drift off like I might have had I not had a choice in my topic.

I know not all professional development can be like this. Sometimes, the topic is timely and needs our attention. Sometimes, it’s not a topic we want to deal with, but must Those instances are truly out of our control, and I’m ok with that. But to sit down and talk about something I want to learn about and do it in a professional manner, without people checking up on us? Wow.

I’m very excited to head back next Sunday to continue the conversations and to get another order of sweet potato fries I had! Yum!