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Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Hidden Advantage to Being a PBL Teacher

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/
This week I am attending some training in the new End of Course (EOC) exams for the state of Texas. It is a training created by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and is presented by the local Educational Service Center (Region XIII) with local trainers from Round Rock ISD and Georgetown ISD.

     The training is being conducted for the Physics EOC and is at a Round Rock ISD school so most of the teachers are from Round Rock but there are teachers from many of the towns around the area including Austin, Pflugerville, Hutto, and Manor (myself).

     During the first day there were some things I noted about the training that bugged me but they really were minor. What I discovered was that it appears that I might have been a bit less bothered than some of the teachers in the class. I couldn't put my finger on why, at first, but towards the end of the day it suddenly dawned on me: I now see PD in a whole new light because I am a PBL teacher.  Let me explain. 

     Firstly, where others saw difficulties in changing their ways, I saw an opportunity to introduce new ways of doing things in my projects.  And, where others saw that they were going to have to figure out how to increase collaboration and critical thinking I saw that I needed to hone my skills, in those two areas, so that I might be a better teacher.

    They may seem like subtle differences and, on the surface, they are.  However, where I am calmly thinking of projects that I can create, I see very stressed teachers around me wondering how they are going to add "one more thing" to their busy requirements.

    And the school districts add the stress to their teachers without even thinking.  At least I hope they do this without thinking.  It really would be a cruel and evil thing to do if this were premeditated.   For example, one teacher was told yesterday that she needed to have all of her lesson plans for the first six weeks in by the end of next week (August 5th) when teachers don't even have to report back until more than a week later.  Another teacher had attended the Chemistry EOC that ended earlier this week.  The essential knowledge she gained is the exact same as in this training.  Next week she will be attending the Biology training too.


     I walked out thanking my stars that my school district was much more lenient with the trainings.  And, if a curriculum specialist was really in tune with what was being presented in the trainings they would see that except for some great examples of a 5E lesson there really isn't much difference between the trainings.   But I'm getting away from my main message that as a PBL teacher I am now much more comfortable with change than I used to be when I was a regular classroom teacher.  And this difference is palpable when you are in the midst of a room full of regular classroom teachers being given new information that will effect their coming school year.