Tomorrow, Holy Spirit Catholic Schools will be engaged in a division wide professional development day. Our entire staff of nearly 500, will gather at Catholic Central Campus East for the day. The keynote address from Dr. Bryan E. Kolb, a Professor at the University of Lethbridge’s Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience, will speak specifically to the day’s theme, “Gray Matters – Engaging the 21st Century Brain.” Dr. Kolb will discuss how our understanding of brain development has fundamentally changed in the past decade and how these alterations influence children’s development and learning. I’m excited about tomorrow’s PD day not only to listen to Dr. Kolb but on the multitude of presentations being offered to division staff. Many of these sessions are being led by our own staff and demonstrate the high level of expertise we have throughout our division. Take a look at our sessions by visiting the following link: http://lenaour.wikispaces.com/October+2011+PD+Day+Sessions.
Although I am excited, the fact remains that this is the day that parents have to find alternative childcare and that is not necessarily easy in today’s world. So, when parents or the community join in chorus and say, “What… another PD day?”, I think that we need to be fully transparent in what is occurring during these days. Furthermore, we know as educators from the research that one shot PD is not very effective so why do we have these days anyway??? Why do we inconvenience parents and whole families if that is what the research says?
Professional development days must satisfy one major requisite if they are to be considered useful in the eyes of staff and the community. For the day to be worthwhile and deemed a success it must invoke change and possibly a little internal conflict in the participants. Learning occurs when we are stretched a little farther in our thinking, our beliefs and our practices. The day’s topics must be considered either to be a revelation to some or an affirmation to others. Both require us to reflect on our current practice. Professional development days can never be seen as an end. They are either a beginning or part of the journey of professional growth.
Professional development is a hot topic right now in our province as we address the transformation agenda. The transformation of education will not suddenly occur with these days but it may not ever start without them. A balance has to be struck between full days like this and the focused conversations occurring in schools’ learning communities. But when you have a division wide PD day, make it worthwhile and communicate the intent to parents so they can see the benefits of getting childcare for another day!