Monday, April 11, 2016

Make the Most of Mandatory PD

This coming Friday, April 15, 2016, our board will have a Professional Development Day. This particular day was not initially in the schedule. At our school, the morning will be devoted to a whole-staff exploration of "The Blanket Exercise" for greater awareness of FNMI issues. The afternoon is dedicated to grade team and division planning as well as time to complete compliance and mandatory training.

I heard through the grapevine that there were quite a few online learning modules to go through and that it would take the entire afternoon to finish them. Would the technology at school cooperate with that many individuals on simultaneously? I decided to get a head start on completing a few of the seven required training sessions this past weekend.

I think it may be common knowledge that professional learning that is self-directed and self-initiated is more powerful and "sticky". If this is true, then how do schools and school boards and other organizations "grab" educators to instruct them on policies or provide content that they are required to have? I'll admit, I wasn't looking forward to devoting time to these mandatory webinars. I did two sessions on AODA (the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) and another called "Anaphylaxis in Schools: What Educators Need to Know" offered by I actually learned things. This is what helped me "get through it".

1) Be aware of (and try to alter) your attitude toward the task.

Yes, I complained about doing it. I gritted my teeth and furrowed my brow. Then, I through the negative feelings behind me and paid attention. I realized that if I continued to harbour any resentment at being "forced" to participate, it'd be less likely that I would find any parts of it useful.

2) Take notes
Even though only a few of the mandatory training sessions required me to recall information and take a quiz to "prove" I paid attention (not necessarily the best method to ensure compliance, as answers can be shared - teachers can be just as naughty as students when it comes to beating tests!), I took notes for each session. It made me accountable in a way that just "sit 'n git" doesn't manage.

3) Make connections to your own teaching practice and experiences

As part of the AODA compliance training, there was a sheet of "reflection questions and conversation starters". It asked things like "What are the gaps between your current and desired practice related to principles of accessibility in your school?" Those are good questions to ask. Originally, I was going to focus this week's blog reflection just on answering those questions, and I may yet return to them in a future post. With my anaphylaxis training, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable because of my own experiences on the receiving end of a epinephrine auto-injector (twice). Yet, I realized that there were still ways I could improve the way I handle these emergencies as an individual with life-threatening allergies.

I appreciated the ways that the creators of the learning modules tried their best to make the content less dry and multi-modal (with videos, animation, closed captioning, mini-evaluations, and other strategies). I still have to do sessions on Asbestos, Health and Safety Awareness, Workplace Violence, and WHMIS, but hopefully if I remember my own trio of tips, it won't be a bitter pill to swallow, but some helpful medicine to keep everyone mentally, physically and academically healthy.

No comments:

Post a Comment