Psst. The ‘s’ in P.A. is silent. Well that would be how many outside of education might see these days when staff are at schools while students frolic and faff about with their families. Nothing could be further from that misconception. I wonder if there are any educators left who can recall a time in their careers when these days didn’t exist. A quick search on the interwebs revealed very little information beyond some government pages. After this week’s learning, my full brain was not willing to click on for more.
It was a P.A. day in my school board and, in the spirit of “P.A.” days past, come with their share of work for educators at all phases of their careers. On the day’s menu: attention to countless operational matters, safety videos, wellness/mental health videos, and new curriculum/instructional insights. As anyone who has participated in this day in prior years this year’s “P.A..” day learning lineup seemed much more robust.
At my school, we met in the morning to discuss students at risk, sign off on safety plans, watch important video reminders related to our professional duty and safety. There we were 50+ together, synchronizing our minds on all aspects on so many important pieces to the puzzle picture we call education.
Hours of learning/refreshing our minds plus some prep time later, we were then given a chance to work through some fresh thinking on literacy and math by division. This included some instructional approaches to the new language curriculum, as well as some time to browse board curated math resources. With all the boxes ticked, there was just enough time for some planning during an afternoon prep time which included giving some feedback on an assignment.
It was a full day. As I worked through the day a couple of questions came to mind;
1a. Was this enough time to really allow the flood of content to permeate my cerebral space?
1b. If not, when do I find time to let that happen?
2. What was it like at other schools? How much time was spent in self-directed/exploratory activities around the new approaches in language and math? Was it enough? If there are others like me, when do we find that time to continue with this learning? Is there a life/work imbalance expected then?
3. With so much of the content prescribed from the system level, are there other approaches to consider in order to deliver the mandated compliance pieces while maximizing new learning opportunities?
For many of us, it is impossible to forget the stark differentiation between losing a finger or a toe and loss of limb in the Workplace Injury module, and those dearly departed ladder safety videos. I still wipe the rungs of my ladder because of them, even at home. Even as much of this familiar and important content has evolved, I felt overstimulated and overwhelmed with all of the learning that was prescribed for this “P.A.” day. Was I the only one? Was it the pace?
In the weeks and months to come, there will be more learning added, and I will have to proceed with it at my own pace as a learner. In some cases, it might already mesh with my learning style as I discovered that the suggested strategies for math learning have finally caught up with my teaching style.
I am happy to try out and learn new things, but even when I go to the grocery store and load up for a week or two, I have never cooked everything that was brought home for just one meal. That shared, it will be a couple of weeks before what I started will truly be processed and completed even though we were given a day. I guess this “elephant will be eaten one bite at time” (adapted from Desmond Tutu).