As summer winds down and the school year begins, I thought it would be nice to reflect on the learning that happened over the summer for myself. As a teacher in a rural district, there aren’t many opportunities to connect with other teachers in your field within your building. Noone else teaches chemistry! However, I have found that there are many ways to connect with teachers in other districts over the summer and throughout the school year. This summer I attended 3 professional development events that were each unique and amazing!
In my most recent post (which was a while ago!), I talked about how excited I was to meet Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate. I was super excited to hear him speak at the Rural Enhancement of Math and Science Teachers conference at South Dakota State University in June. And, I was NOT disappointed! His presentation was engaging, interesting, passionate, and amazing! Everything he talks about in the book was put into action during his presentation. All teachers know how annoying it is to listen to a speaker tell you how to teach, and not teach in that way! Dave Burgess did not do that, his presentation was everything you could have asked for. I know I learned some American History (even though I always thought I hated it!). I am really excited to try some of his ideas in my classroom next year! Also during the conference, I was able to meet with faculty of SDSU, recent graduates of the math and science education programs, and some veteran teachers. Each group of people I spoke with was able to give new insights, interesting points of view, and advice.
I also attended our state’s Student Learning Objectives training. South Dakota is just implementing SLOs, so they were nice enough to hold a 2 day workshop for us to learn about them and begin work on ours for the next school year. I was very happy to get more information about what SLOs are, and be able to talk to many other science teachers about what they would be measuring in their SLO. Speaking to other science teachers was, by far, the most valuable part of this workshop. By bouncing ideas off each other, we were able to come up with some very good standards to measure and ways of measuring them!
My last professional development workshop was a week-long class at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF). This research facility is located in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota in Lead. (Pronounced like “lead the way”, not lead in a pencil.) The facility is located in the old Homesteak Gold Mine. At the facility, they are doing a lot of research on high-energy physics. They are located almost a mile underground in order to minimize or eliminate cosmic rays from affecting their research. At the workshop, we learned about the research happening at the SURF, as well as ways to connect what was happening there with life, earth and physical sciences. The week was full of hands-on activities, tours, and discussion with scientists. It was amazing to see what kinds of cool science are happening right here in my home state! I know that I will use the things I learned this summer to tell my students more about what kinds of science they can do right here in South Dakota!
I didn’t spend the whole summer doing professional development, but I really enjoyed it when I did! But, its also important to use summer to refresh and rejuvenate for next year! I read some books just for fun, and spent plenty of time on Pinterest! I also got a little bit of a tan golfing and kayaking. Overall, it was a great summer of learning! I hope everyone had a great summer themselves!
Let me know if you’ve done any special PD over the summer. Where do you find sources of professional development as a rural teacher?