Every once in a while, professional development is painless

Today was a “Mobile Inservice” in our district. We always have a couple of media inservice days where we gather at the “instructional support center” and go over important things. But this one is different and special.

For this one a number of librarians offer to host at their school libraries. A number of others sign up to present on some aspect of the job. You get a sub for the day and sign up to travel to two of the host spots. One morning and one afternoon site.

At each site there is a tour of the center, some snacks and two presentations. Then you have time for lunch and travel to the second site where you again tour, chat and hear two more presentations. Since we’re all also librarians and the crowds aren’t big the talks can vary in formality and number of interruptions but they’re always interesting and it’s always a worthwhile day. You can’t help getting ideas getting to see other settings and it’s the only professional development where you know everyone is going to be talking about stuff that actually matters to your job because they have the same job!

Of course it’s interesting just how different everyone’s situation can be. Even in our relatively homogeneous suburban district the jobs vary WIDELY. Some are Title I. Many are not. Some have many other languages and ethnicities. Some just don’t. Some elementary schools are as small as 700 students and some are well over a thousand. Some have adequate support staff and others don’t. Some have administrators who respect them and their opinions and others just don’t get it.

The media specialists differ as well. Some love technology and trying new things and are trying out maker spaces and QR codes and Skype author visits. Others don’t. But all of them, in all the presentations I heard today anyway, all want what’s best for the students. And not only when it’s easy.

Anyway, it’s one professional day I always look forward to. And that’s saying something.

A note on yesterday’s comet landing mission. I ran a short computer animation of the landing as part of my morning show and mentioned what an historic day it was. I also had the live stream running on the library projector and talked about it with the classes that came in. There was a group on the computers who stopped what they were doing as the news came in and when the mission control folks started cheering they did as well.

But. I was really surprised by how many teachers mentioned that they didn’t have any idea that it was happening until I pointed it out. Not even the STEM teacher. Woah.