Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I Think It's Awesome That You Think I'm Awesome

Matt G. shared his story about getting a little well-earned praise and what it can mean, and I can't let anyone tell a story without telling one of my own. It's my OPD (Obnoxious Personality Disorder) acting up again.

Here's my story:

Last year our reading specialist was retiring. I only worked with her that one year, but I knew her a little before that; her husband was the superintendent in my first district, so he was the guy who fired me after two years when they downsized (multiple jobs to cut, and I was the newest guy on staff.)
Besides that, they live literally around the corner in the nicest house in town.

Anyway, she gave a training session. It was one of those "Let's all stay an extra two hours after work and learn about diversity!" kind of things.
In this case, it was "differentiated instruction," which is the "tactical" of the education world. Good idea, but now it's just a buzzword to most people.

She didn't handle it that way. She did two solid hours of one classroom technique after another. No theory, all applications. I used 2 (TWO!) of her ideas the next day, and they both worked. I can't emphasize enough how weird that is; these things are NEVER practical. NEVER. Normally it's like going to a hippie retreat with a bunch of people who don't believe in hippie retreats.

Anyway, I wrote her one of the little "Recognize a Professional" notes they leave in the work room in the desperate hope that we'll be nice to each other. But I also emailed a note praising the practicality and telling her how well her ideas worked--and I CC'ed that to our building principal.

You'd have thought I hired a skywriter to put her name across the wide, blue prairie skies along with hearts, moons, stars and clovers. She looked like she might very well burst!

(Frankly, I was being more than a little selfish--I wanted the principal to see that the staff would go the extra mile if the training was practical and focused on what we do in the classroom.)


Carteach said...

Understood. I did fifteen minutes speaking at the in-service in June.
They had fifteen to fill... and I didn't run away fast enough. The blasted old timers made it to the door ahead of me.

I chose the topic of using power points as teaching aids, from our tech school view point. Every bit of it on do's and don't's, work's, and "Don't be this dumb!".

Luckily I had about 600 megs of PP's up on the network I could grab fast as examples.

Good part: Some of the instructors sat there with their mouths open... and nothing coming out. Turns out no one had every told them this stuff before. Got kudos emails from the director on down.

Bad part... the paid presenter who followed me used a power point with every bad feature I just talked about.


Matt G said...

Don, we gotta talk.

You're touching on the topic that I want to write my thesis on, and I need an educator's educator viewpoint on this. I seriously doubt that the methods of educating short attention-span adults (as cops are notorious for being) and children are all that different.

My goal: education/training sessions that are taught with quality practical content, and educational standards that the instructors are held to.