I have done professional development for a long time. I'm assigned to one school, but also do some work on weekends, holidays, and after school for another department. As someone who has done professional development for a long time, I've had lots of opportunities to construct the scenario for what an ideal professional development day might look like. Here's my ideal day:
- Arrive at the school 90 minutes before PD starts. Computer bag is packed with all necessary equipment- computer, LCD projector, connector that goes between LCD projector and computer, power cords, handouts, and updated attendance sheet, printed out just a few minutes earlier.
- Weather is reasonably dry. There are no large puddles in the parking lot. The wind is not blowing, at least not hard enough to make the chart paper flap.
- The school is a reasonable temperature.
- School is unlocked. Assigned room actually exists. Assigned room is located within reasonable distance (no more than two blocks) from parking lot. Assigned room is on the first floor OR There is an elevator. There is no secret code, known by someone who is unreachable on weekends. There are no large flights of stairs between the elevator and the assigned room.
- Assigned room is unlocked.
- Assigned room has furniture, including tables and chairs.
- Assigned room has furniture that does not have to be unstacked, unbolted from the floor, or uncovered.
- Assigned room has electrical outlets within twelve feet of presentation area.
- Assigned room is not an art room that has recently completed glittery projects.
That's my ideal. Saturday was a more typical day.
- 6:30- Presentation cart, LCD projector, chart paper, chocolate. loaded into the car at a reasonable time. Got halfway to the school where I was presenting and remembered I had not grabbed my attendance sheet off the printer. Made a quick stop at the nearest copy shop.
- 7:15 Arrive at the school. I see the woman who is in charge for the morning standing outside on her cell phone. Not a good sign. The school is locked. We wait 15 minutes, then call security, who can activate something from afar and let us in. The woman who is waiting with me is supposed to do logistics, but she can't leave the front door because it's not unlocked. I head for the third floor, with a couple of early students trailing along behind me.
- Assigned rooms are on the third floor of this huge downtown high school To get there, we go up a ramp that is about half a block long, make a left, go half a block east, make another left, and go another half block to the elevator, which is thankfully working and does not have a code or a key. When we get to the third floor, we get off the elevator and go another half block west. I drop off students at their rooms as we pass them.
- 7:40 The room I am assigned to, 345B, does not appear to exist. I leave my cart in the middle of the hall and make another sweep of the third floor. No room, but I do find the custodian. He tells me there is no such room and he is not sure why we keep trying to use it. He offers another room.
- 8:00 New room, 266A is hot, but it has windows. I open them and let the morning air in, then try to create a more appealing environment by shoving the tables and chairs in different directions
- 8:05 Another presenter appears. She was supposed to start five minutes ago but doesn't have an extension cord. I still have about 45 minutes, so I unplug my projector and lend her my cord, thinking I can borrow one from someone else.
- 8:10 I go down the hall and borrow a cord. It is not long enough. I return it and try another one.
- 8:20 The logistics person finally gets the doors unlocked and comes upstairs. She has an extension cord for the original presenter and I can have my back. I unplug and reset my projector for the third time.
- 8:30 My students are arriving. This is a three hour one-shot class, kind of an overview of the program in Denver. One young woman is new from Missouri and asks for directions to her school, on the southeast side of Denver, almost directly diagonal from where we are in the northwest part of the city. Another gentleman tells me he thinks he has taken this class from me, the summer before. In the courses that last for more than one session, I know my students, but in this one time class, with thirty plus people, it's kind of hard to remember. I help him get on our district website and we discover that he has in fact taken my class and is actually in the wrong room. A third person arrives and tells me she is retiring next year and is not sure why she has to take this class.
- 8:40 I make a run to the bathroom, half a block down and half a block over. On the way back I run into another instructor, someone who I mentored when she was a beginning teacher. She has been doing professional development for about a year. Today, the room she has been assigned is easily over ninety degrees with no windows. I find a fan, then hunt down the logistics person to see if she can move rooms.
- 8:55 My room is almost full when I return. The computer and the projector have decided the are not talking and I have to unplug everything and reconnect it.
- 9:00. And we are off.
I love teaching, I really do, and adults are as much fun as kids. But some days, I feel like I have already put in a full day's work by the time I start to teach. This was definitely one of them.