Tuesday, August 2, 2011

When the Cup Runneth Over

On Friday, it rained on Long Island.  It didn’t just rain, it poured.  It was a torrential, tropical kind of rain that could fill a bucket within seconds.  I watched from the window as the water hit the ground thinking, “Wow, we really need this.  It’s been so dry.” But as I watched, I noticed that the water was coming at such a force that it just didn’t have time to seep in.  Those precious raindrops falling from the sky simply puddled and ran down the driveway into the sewer.  Instead of giving the ground the long drink it’s been thirsting for, it received a sip and left the plants aching for an all day rain, the kind that allows time for the water to sink deep into the ground and nurture the roots so they can grow strong and tall.

This week marks Literacy Builders’ fourth annual Start September Strong Summer Workshop Series.  As I’ve tied up loose ends in preparation for the events that we have planned this week, it occurred to me that teacher professional development is a lot like the downpour that I experienced on Friday.  Teachers show up thirsty for knowledge and we, in our attempt to deliver, fill their buckets with information.  But information comes in a downpour and those buckets quickly fill. 

I have two questions that will drive all of the work that I do with teachers this week: What is the current state of your game?  What can you improve?  As I think about these questions, I find myself thinking a lot about how I deliver information to teachers.  As I’ve worked with my colleagues to design our workshops, we have wrestled with the question of how people learn best.  How can we provide information like a steady, falling rain instead of dumping buckets of information that our minds can’t digest? Our answer to this question was time to think so we designed our workshops to allow for collaboration and reflection.  But in a lot of ways, this is just an experiment and I won’t know until the week is over whether it was successful.

If you’re joining us, please visit this blog at the end of the week and share if we succeeded in inspiring your thinking and making you feel like you were watered by a slow, steady rain.  And if you’re far away or unable to come, please help me continue to improve my game by sharing the type of professional development that helps you learn best.  

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