Monday, April 4, 2016

The Gift Professional Development... and Gilmore Girls

I haven’t written in a few days because I got caught in the snares of NetFlix.  Specifically, I got caught in the snares of Gilmore Girls.  It was bad, people.  I skipped a couple workouts.  I let my husband cook meals.  I didn’t think for one second about work.  I’m a little embarrassed.  I still have another season to go, though, and you better bet I’m gonna see this thing through.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.  I just wanted to talk about a big change in attitude I had recently. 

I was attending a mandatory professional development that had been arranged and supported by my district leaders.  As we gathered together, some of us were lamenting that we were there, anxious about missing a day of work.  I was right there with them:  I had way too much to do back in my office; I needed to complete some evaluations; I had phone calls and emails to return.  Most of all, I dreaded the inevitable falling-behind that would greet me upon my return to work.  We all wondered aloud, Was the learning planned for today really going to be worth it?  If so, how?

Of course, our grumbling wasn’t anything new.  A lot of us do it when we are asked to attend PD.  Of course we know it’s important, and we’re happy to dole it out—we do it all day long, really, with our students—but we don’t necessarily like to attend ourselves.  We feel like learning how to do our jobs better gets in the way of… well, of doing our jobs.

But this time, our presenter stood to begin and hit us with this little gem:

“To be here today is such a gift. You have been given time to think together, to collaborate, to share ideas.  Your leaders care about your growth, which is why they have arranged this opportunity for you.  Let’s remember to be grateful for this gift, shall we?”

And with those words, my thinking immediately shifted.  Just moments before, I’d been grumpy about being there.  But now, I caught myself:  why bring a poor attitude to the learning?  Why not be grateful, instead?  Why not look at it as the gift that it really was? 

It was a wonderful day.  I got a whole pile of new ideas and inspiration.  When I returned to work the next day, I wasn’t burdened by all the things I needed to do; I was refreshed and eager to tackle new challenges.

It’s just more evidence that the approach we bring to learning makes all of the difference.  We know this is true because we see it in our students.  But it’s a big jump to apply it to ourselves.  It takes a conscious decision.  It takes saying to oneself, “I am going to appreciate the gift I’ve been given, and I’m going to honor and respect the gift by actually using it.”  A good attitude isn’t an accident.  It’s a choice.

So is four straight hours of Gilmore Girls, I guess.  But that choice was an easy one. 

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