administration, Be the change, being a teacher, first day, first week, new teacher, new year

On In-Service and Back to School Training

For many of us, it has been a summer of learning.

For many of us, it has been a summer of renewal.

Of finding new ideas

Of tweaking the old ones.

Of refocusing, re-thinking, and perhaps even re-committing.

We eagerly await the arrival of those kids, we hope will become our kids, and we dream of the year to come.

But before the first day of school there is bound to be training.  There is bound to be new programs, new initiatives, new things added on to our already heavy shoulders in order to make this year the possibly best year we have ever had.  And I try to be excited and I try to be ready and I try to be open-minded, but I realize now that while the program may be amazing.  While the research may be compelling.  While the intentions may be the best, it doesn’t really matter.

You could bring us the very best program in the world, but it may never be enough.

Because school is not really about implementing programs.  School is not really about the lesson plan.  Or the curriculum.  Or even about the research.  It is about the kids, of course.  We say it all the time.  And yet, where is the time spent in our back-to-school days?  What are our discussions centered on?  What do we walk away from our in-service days knowing more about?  The program or the kids?

I for one hope it is the kids, but often see them left to the end, brought up as data points and survey results.  Brought up in lofty dreams and grand ambitions.  Why not make in-service about the very kids we teach and invite a few in?  Why not interview them to ask about their hopes for the school year?  Why not have them craft questions or areas they would like us to get better at.  Why do so many of our decisions that center around kids never involve the kids?

So if you are in charge, if you are the one making the agenda, bring in the kids.  Add their voice.  Add their presence.  Let us focus not on the training of more curriculum implementation, on all the new initiatives, at least not the entire time, but instead on the problems the students challenge us to solve.  Let us focus on what we say we are really there for; the kids and let them guide us into making this the best year yet.

If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child, out August 2017.  This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block.  If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.      Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.



4 thoughts on “On In-Service and Back to School Training”

  1. Love this post!
    As a preschool teacher and parent, I can completely appreciate this!
    I have been reading and educating myself this Summer. We as educators and parents forget that children have a voice and want to be heard. Often times we find solutions for kids without their input. We need to ask more questions, practice more reflective listening and collaborate more with them. I read the book Lost at School by Dr. Ross Greene. It’s a collaborative and proactive solutions model to help solve unsolved problems. It changed my entire perspective! This book is geared for educators and administration. He has training workshops where one can get certified in this model. Amazing! Best read! According to your posts, you and Dr. Greene are on the same page. It’s life changing!
    Keep up the good work!

  2. I just spent most of Friday in professional development learning about a new district reading assessment that is embedded with the basal (even though many of us don’t use it), how to “return to the basal” even though a teacher stated, “My kids don’t enjoy the stories”, and in grade level meetings looking at FSA scores. Not once were the kid’s attitudes towards reading or joyful writing discussed. I’m doing my best to stay positive and do what I know is best for my kiddos.

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