Monday, March 26, 2012

A broken camera is like PD

During the March Break, my much beloved camera was broken. (I won't go into details explaining how this happened.) It's an expensive camera and one that I've had for a long time (a Canon Power Shot S3, if you were wondering). I had planned on just running to the store and getting it repaired but the cost of getting it fixed wasn't worth it. I balked (okay, my husband balked) at spending the same amount of money on a similar make and model without investigating all the other options, so I turned to the husband of a good friend of mine who is a big photography fan. He was absolutely fantastic. He interviewed us about the type of pictures we take, the settings we used, the things we liked most about my old camera. I went to his house and he lent me two other cameras. They're a lot smaller than my old camera.

"Try them out for a while," he advised. "You are used to the weight and feel of your old one, so unless you take some pictures with these, you'll never be able to make a balanced decision".

I've taken his advice and snapped many photos. I thought I'd never get accustomed to such a puny little camera. I enjoyed the "handle" on my old one and my familiarity with the controls so that I could take a "sports" or "macro" shot. However, as I've toyed with the "loaners", I've begun to see the advantage of their compact size (which fits easily into my purse). I've discovered a grip that allows me to take photos without getting my fingers in the way. I think, when I finally make my camera purchase, I can fairly judge the different types of cameras and make a sound decision.

I realized, as I made the final preparations for my presentation tomorrow with the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board, that my experience with my broken camera is a lot like professional development. How?
  • We can't and won't give up our old ways of doing things unless we think they are "broken".
  • We need wise mentors to help us sort things out and discover what we need from what's out there.
  • We require time to play with the new methods so we can decide for ourselves what path to choose.
  • We must see the benefits before accepting a change
I hope my workshop goes over well with the group. I haven't yet figured out how to upload the photos I've taken with the new cameras, so my blog will be image-less for a while. Hopefully I'll be a camera owner again soon.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Some adults need to stand in a corner

March Break is now over and I'm back at school. I enjoyed my vacation a great deal. I got a lot done and still had time to relax with my family. We ate out every day - a particular weakness of ours - but one of these excursions ended with me in tears in the car, wishing that the rules of the school playground applied to the world at large. Let me explain, first by using the five tweets I sent shortly after the event.

My husband was quite perplexed; he didn't understand why I was so upset by the scene at the restaurant and why it left me shaking and weeping afterwards. I had to explain that I have a dear friend who is large in size (with a super-large loving heart, but I digress) and I've walked with her and had total strangers hurl insults at her when she's done absolutely nothing to harm them in the least. She works for a government agency that deals with the public and she's told me stories about irate citizens who are displeased with the response she must provide who then immediately call her names related to her weight and size. How can people be so cruel?

There were many aspects that bothered me about the incident, including the fact that this woman was a mother of three children who witnessed her behaviour. What does this teach her children? If she would scream and make a public embarrassment of herself, escalating it further when the man simply said "shhh", how does she react when a person of authority tries to tell her what to do? Does she listen or respect anyone? Later that day, I read a news article about a man who punched into unconsciousness his daughter's assistant coach because he made her do laps. The really upsetting part of this article in my Yahoo news feed was when relatives of the man justified his actions. Running laps (or asking someone to calm down) does not warrant a full-scale scream-fest or a vicious assault.

Usually in school playgrounds, if something bad happens and the teacher on yard duty witnesses it or deals with it, then all parties abide by the ruling. You did something wrong, you stand by the wall or in a corner, or apologize, or do whatever, and the incident doesn't get worse - it's over. I'm lucky that at my current school, students, parents, and teachers respect each other, at least superficially. In the past, I've have had parents yell at me, question my teaching or discipline in a humiliating and disrespectful way, and conduct themselves in anti-social ways in front of their children. It's at times like those that I wish there was an "Ultimate Teacher" who could intervene, stop the insanity, and put misbehaving adults in a time-out and make it all right. Maybe there is but we get our "report card" a long time from now.