Okay, so I spent a week at AVID Summer Institute. I had 16 hours of Tutorology (how to run effective tutorials in the AVID elective class) and 16 hours of site team planning (even though we only 3 site team members at the training.
While in San Diego, I also attended a Padres game, saw Inception at a local theater, had incredible food in Old Town, took a ferry across the harbor to Coronado Island to eat at the Coronado Brew Company, discovered numerous great beers (I'll post those someday) and spent about 3 hours (on a few occasions) in the hot tub at the Crown Plaza.
Hot Tub PD
In the hot tub, I talked a lot with Russ, who I teach with. I also meet Diana from the East Coast, Francisco from Northern California, Tenisha from somewhere in the South and another teacher from Michigan.
Francisco connected with Russ, as they both taught GTT, and he is also an AVID elective teacher. Tenishea was a subject area teacher who is teaching her first AVID elective this year. Diana was a high school math teacher who teaches both math and an AVID elective. The Michigan teacher was a high school AVID elective teacher.
In our conversations, we talked about how to structure the AVID elective class. We talked about tricks to make tutorials more effective. We talked about how to get other teachers in our buildings on board with AVID pieces. We talked about room arrangements. We talked about the ideal AVID student. We talked about the struggles of AVID students. We shared our most memorable AVID success. We shared our biggest AVID student success.
Okay, 3 hours and all we did was share. In 32 hours of formal training there wasn't three hours of me talking with other teachers about how to successfully implement AVID.
So, what does this mean for professional development?
Give me a chance to sit in a hot tub for a few hours with like-minded teachers. Heck, you can even give some conversation starters. One hot tub could be "tutorials," another could be "the AVID student," and another could be "Binders."
I truly feel that I get just as much, if not more, from Hot Tub PD as I do from sitting in a traditional meeting space.
My point is that sitting in a room with a facilitator listening, flipping through a handbook, and doing activities isn't the best way for many to learn. It probably isn't the best use of funding. I feel that there needs to be more flexible thinking in what is high quality PD, the shape it takes and what the learning needs to be. I'm not speaking from strictly an AVID perspective; I think most PD events need to reevaluate what they are doing.
(I've also found that a bar, or beers, has the same effect as the hot tub.)