Thursday, March 12, 2015

PDA

I'm sure with a title like this, you're thinking that I'm going to chat about wondering hands and kisses in the hallways between classes.  PDA, in that sense, has been a topic of concern for teachers since the beginning of time.  Coupled with crop tops, miniskirts, and, well, the overabundance of yoga pants and tights, it's an easy leap to think that PDA is something that should be discouraged, rather than encouraged.


PDA?  Would it ever work?  

This isn't the most graceful leap I've ever made from introduction to content, but try to stay with me.  Granted, I was working with the PDA acronym.  Teachers spend a great deal of time acting in "loco parentis", a state in which the school district becomes responsible for providing the safe and secure environment, in the absence of parents, during the school day.  Parents have certain expectations for the safety and security of their children, as well as that the educational needs of their kids will be met in a manner that is engaging.  (Heck, nobody wants to see the eye roll followed by "BORING" as a response to the "How was school today?" question.)  

Teachers are challenged to meet kids where they are, and take them to where they are capable of going.  Experts teach teachers strategies, usually based on research, to assist in engaging students, teachers do their best to grasp the new method, program, software, or whatever, and hope that the "next big thing" being touted in the Professional Development Activity (see where I'm going here? PDA!), is ACTUALLY the next big thing  and not something that the kids are describing as SO LAST WEEK/MONTH/YEAR.

So what would happen if the students provided the professional development?  What can we, as teachers, learn from students?  Suzie Boss from Edutopia got me thinking, after reading her blog entry entitled "Should Students Have a Role in Professional Development?"   

 We see kids with technology every day, navigating brand new programs with expert-efficiency.  Who among us hasn't wanted to stop and ask for tips?  What could our students teach US about the equipment we already have in our schools, or the resources on the web?  How much more engaging could our lessons be with student involvement?

Several years ago, the Technology Coach created a program for some of my middle school gifted students which came to be known as the Tech Posse.  The students were trained to use smart boards and projectors, to troubleshoot connections, and, well, be in classes but were able to be the front line of defense, assisting teachers, and substitutes.  We even created a lanyard system similar to the colors of karate belts, since they were so proud of their ID tags, that allowed the more credentialed individuals to work from white lanyard to yellow, and all the way to black.

Tomorrow, I'm asking some kids what they would teach teachers, if they were permitted to do so.  Stay tuned -- we may have found a way to survive professional development activities that are anything but boring, courtesy of the folks for whom we tolerate PDAs in the first place!