Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that I have not had a lot of time for professional development. Coming from a position where my whole work was around developing and facilitating professional development for teachers and administrators, this is quite a big change. The structured professional development opportunities are far and few between (usually one shot, listen to the expert, style – not really a great chance for professional development).
I have had a few opportunities to find my own professional development through twitter, though. I am finding that there are many out there that are sharing some amazing examples of what works, what doesn’t and what to do next (to paraphrase Faye Brownlie). This is not enough, though. Small, 140 character snippets are great for introducing a concept and links to full blogs or conversations around pro-d, but they do not have the same impact on my practice as a sustained, ongoing professional conversation around a particular topic.
For me, the most pressing issue is the discipline (after all the adminstrivia that goes on with my new position-Ha! I feel like I can’t call this new, despite it being only 5 weeks, now). At first, I felt that suspensions didn’t work. Students being pulled from their classes, made to stay at home as punishment just doesn’t sit well with me. I have looked at several of the RTI models, but none have found the traction that I am looking for, although restorative justice is still one of the main concepts that I am continually looking at.
However, after five weeks and many, many, many suspension letters, I am beginning to see patterns in the discipline process at the secondary level. Students can really benefit from a ‘time out’. One student, however, demonstrated that this process can spiral to increased levels. I sent one student home for the afternoon, as this student was being quite disruptive to other students’ learning (it wasn’t a suspension, just a ‘cooling off period’, which just didn’t work). The student continued with the disruptions (in the hallways, on the way home, returning to school, being disrespectful, etc). which led to a full suspension for two days. I think the spiral of this was a direct result of the misunderstanding by the student to take responsibility for their actions.
This will be an ongoing issue for me, as I navigate between the different aspects of discipline. I will be attending the ASCD annual conference this year, and will probably try to attend as many administration/RTI sessions as I can. I will be tweeting this through the #ASCD12 hashtag on my twitter account @brynmw and @bcascd, if anyone wants to follow.
Any ideas are always welcome. I will, of course, keep comments anonymous.