Sunday, February 21, 2016

Professional Development By Choice: Why I Attend PD on a Saturday

Organizer Shauna Hawes with Todd Nesloney in the background
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Mount Diablo Unified School District STEM and EdTech Symposium at Valley View Middle School here in Pleasant Hill. While its location here in my own town was a definite convenience, it was not a deciding factor on whether or not I would attend. Not even close. I went for one simple reason: I love learning! And events like this help me satiate my love of learning.

Of course, that's not the only reason I love attending conferences. Recently, I was questioned as to why I would be willing to give up any or all of my weekend to attend professional development on my own time. To be honest, I'm not sure why all teachers aren't conference junkies like me. Where else can we fuel our passion for teaching and learning?!

Teaching is the hardest job I have ever had. And this time of year it can be incredibly tough to remember why you love teaching. Spring is approaching, the days are getting longer, the sun is out a little more, and the kids are getting crazier and crazier. 

And crazier.

Going to a conference where you're surrounded by 300 other teachers feeling that same strain is reaffirming. But it is also inspiring. Did you see that number? Allow me to repeat it: Three Hundred Teachers! On a Saturday. And not one of them was there because they had to be. We were all there because we wanted to be there. We were ready to learn, to talk to other teachers, and to be inspired. How can you not be inspired by that many teachers excited to learn.

Oh, and to win supercool prizes. Right, Jen?

But I digress.

Allow me to share with you some of the reasons why I attend professional development events on my own time. Hopefully, this may inspire you or someone you know to sign up for an upcoming conference:
  • I am a lifelong learner. I love learning! My grandfather used to say that if you want to stay young, you should learn something new every day. I usually learn enough at one conference to cover me for several weeks. Thanks, gramps!
  • Networking. Meeting and talking to like-minded educators fuels my passion. And I love to share what I'm doing with students. It can be very reaffirming to have someone you admire say, "What a great idea!" But what I really love is when someone says, "What a great idea...have you considered doing it this way...or using this tool?" Conferences allow me to improve as an educator. 
  • Conversations. I love the conversations I wind up having with so many different people, many of whom are members of my PLN. The passion that is expressed in those conversations is undeniable and uncontainable. If more teachers experienced that kind of passion, we would revolutionize education.
  • I love listening to other teachers talk about the amazing things they are doing in their classrooms. I always, always, ALWAYS leave an event with an idea or twenty that I can use in my classroom on Monday. How cool is that!
Mostly, I attend conferences to be inspired. I go to hear people like our keynote speakers Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome inspire me to keep loving the most important job on the planet. And don't our #KidsDeserveIt? Think about it. Who would you rather learn from? A teacher who is so bored with their own teaching that they can't even hold their own attention? Or a teacher who is so passionate about teaching that it energizes everyone in the room?!

I think the answer is fairly obvious. Now, ask yourself which teacher you would rather be. And follow me to a conference soon!  

Middle and high school students sharing their thoughts about education