I have led professional development for school faculties and at educational conferences in the United States and now in Singapore. It’s a slightly heady feeling—walking into a ballroom with a nametag on, the highlights from my CV preceding my entrance. Some of the presentations over the years have been one-offs, and for me, these are the most thrilling. It’s as close to being a rock star—a rock star in a button-down collar, khakis, and sensible shoes, that is—as I’ll ever feel.
Joshua Curnett is a National Board Certified Teacher of English Language Arts and currently teaches high school English at Singapore American School in Singapore. The former NCTE High School Teacher of Excellence for the State of Colorado (2008), Joshua has led staff development courses in both American (local, state, and national) and international settings.
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As our high school faculty gets ready to return to school next month, I am considering the time we’ll spend together during our teacher preparation days. I’ll have an opportunity to lead us in some professional development as a Professional Learning Community, and so–because we are about learning–I have decided to give a formative assessment (via Google Form) of our school’s PLC team leaders before we convene. I was hesitant to try this; after all, it would be comfortable for me to plan every second of the PD regarding my vision of what the staff needs to know. But then again, our teachers probably would not learn too much from it. If I’m willing to experience a bit of discomfort, however, and open myself up to being flexible to what the teachers need and want to learn, the research shows me that the time spent together will be much more meaningful.
This post is part of a series on In Praise of American Educators (And How They Can Become Even Better).
After reading an advance copy of Dr. Rick Dufour’s In Praise of American Educators (And How They Can Become Even Better), I now feel exactly like I do after reading any of his books: empowered and challenged. Just look at the title: it praises me as a teacher yet also suggests I can do more. That’s my PLC experience over the last 11 years in a nutshell.
Part of teaching in a professional learning community is having to confront not only our individual strengths, but also our weaknesses as teachers. By being accountable for common formative and summative data to our fellow teacher teams, we can see not only how our students are learning, but also the effectiveness of our teaching.
Note: This blog post has been adapted from an email that Solution Tree blogger Joshua Curnett sent to the staff at his PLC.
It’s February, the time of year when I cannot remember my name. It’s (picture me stretching my arms out as wide as possible) this far from the beginning of the year and (same image) this far from the end. I can barely remember what Jackie (another teacher) and I decided for our standards-based assessments back in August, much less what our norms would be for the year. I think I asked her to be on time to meetings and not to insult me while using swear words. I think she asked me not to wear so much no-iron and to occasionally bring her tea.
I’m sure all of that is in a Google Doc somewhere. (Now if I could just remember the title of it… )