Friday, July 31, 2015

My PD Stack

Feeling overwhelmed just looking at my PD stack.

The stack of PD books from teachers and authors I deeply admire. Who've written words that I believe in and who have shared strategies that I know will help my students learn, create, collaborate and engage in learning.
The stack of PD books that I purchased, read, highlighted and fell in love with.
The stack of PD books that has grown over the years as new teachers and authors generously share their wisdom and what they have found works for their students.
The stack of PD books that I'm rereading this summer as I prepare for this new stop on my teaching journey-6th grade ELA at middle school.
The stack of PD books that, quite honestly, contains a wealth of teaching goodness that can't possibly fit into my 53 minute/5 days a week/36 weeks a year teaching time next year.

There are many books in my PD stack with ready-to-use activities and surveys and lists. I'm in the midst of finding ways to replace boring methods with these new, more engaging ideas to meet the 70+ ELA standards I am expected to teach my students this year. Some methods need to be adapted to my age group (11-12 yr olds), but all will only happen if they are what the students in my classes need-once I meet them.

There are books in my stacks that help me better understand how to engage my students in reading, writing, speaking and listening. A few books contain best practice in teaching and using various technology. We will be 1:1 iPads next year, so I need this support to help both me and my students in our digital (somewhat paperless) classroom.

Most of the books inspire a change in mindset and many have transformed my teaching philosophy. These books might change the layout of my room or the decor on my classroom walls. They might influence the way I confer with students, how I structure my schedule, or the frequency of peer collaboration. Others will definitely impact how I engage my students and hook them into learning.

These shifts in philosophy don' take time out of the 53 minutes I have each day with students in my ELA classes. However, it takes time to process, time to discover how they mesh with prior philosophies, and time to incorporate into lessons I'll share with my students. It's often these philosophical PD books that take the most planning time because they are woven into the fiber of my teacher being. They guide every decision I make in the students' best interests.

Yes, the stack is tall and overwhelming. At this point in the summer, I am reading and picking out the best of these PD books based on what I think my students will need. They are starting middle school: a critical time to either turn them on to reading, writing and speaking or to turn them off. Honestly, any and all of the strategies and ideas from these incredible teachers and authors will benefit my students.

Like I said, there's just not time to do it all. Once my students feel and experience the joys of reading and writing, and I get to know them, I'll return to these stacks and choose what they need next. In the meantime, my PD stack will continue to grow (I already have 2 books coming soon), and my philosophy will continue to shape and mold my teaching.

Overwhelmed? Yes.
Feeling lucky to teach on the shoulders of my PD stack mentors? Most definitely, yes!