Starting Professional Development at MCHS

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

This was the opening premise and strongest point I took away from today’s Professional Development at Mason City High School (MCHS). Yes, today marks the first day of student teaching activities! It’s finally happening!

Anyways, I loved this quote, which came from Simon Sinek’s video on Ted: How Great Leaders Inspire Action. [See YouTube version below]

To hear the exact section, go to 4:40 — People don’t buy what you do, they buy how you do it.

I love this! And I love Sinek’s analogy to Apple Computers. In the video he talks about why Apple products are so big: because the creators/sellers advertise them starting with why — > how –> what. It is reverse-thinking, but it’s effective because it gives a ‘why’ right from the start and draws people in to the product.

As a group of MCHS staff/faculty, we talked about Sinek’s ideas and thought about our own purposes of learning, the ‘why’.

Something we were asked to think about was our ‘Elevator Speeches’. For example, if a parent approached you in the grocery store and wanted to know why Mason City High School existed, what would you say? Then we were asked to think about this in our own classrooms–How can I explain to students why a class is important? Or for myself, why do I teach?

simonsinekTo the right is a diagram from Sinek’s video that I copied into my own notes. It made me think about my own teaching and how I want my students, most importantly, to see the ‘why’. Why are they learning? Why should they care? Why is a certain lesson or activity important? Just like Sinek explained about the Apple products, the ‘why’ lures the buyer in from the start, explaining why said product is necessary. From there, ‘how it works’ and ‘what it is’ makes the product even more appealing. And hopefully this idea can transcend into my classroom!

The remainder of the day was focused on purpose. Again, the purpose of learning = the ‘why’. We read an article called “The Case for the Missing ‘R'” which can actually be found in an online version here. The four ‘R’s’ are rigor, relevance, relationships and the forgotten one, responsibility.

Here are my notes from the article:

The Case For the Missing ‘R’ pg1-2

The Case For the Missing ‘R’ pg3-4

The main focus of the article was on responsibility, and how if responsibility is shared with the student, the student will be more accountable and the learning will be more effective and goal-focused. The article and discussion we had about the article also emphasized learner goals > rules. I like this idea because it opens up to the different career paths students may have post graduation. During the PD, we had several people from outside the education world come and speak. These people were largely involved with government or business. They spoke about the connection between the work force and education and said something I felt was very important. Student/learner goals need to be changed. The perspective on post-high school life needs to be changed. Instead of asking, ‘Where are you going to college?’ the question should be ‘What are you doing after graduation?’ thus open to all options: trade, craft, career, college, community college, etc. All of these options are good options.

This poster from the 1970’s was mentioned as well:1970sposter

The caption says, “Work smart not hard.” And this is absolutely untrue today. There is value both in working ‘smart’ and hard. Value in all career paths and avenues.

Connecting that idea back to the article and then back to my purpose as a teacher, I realized that I need to be open to all post-high school decisions and make sure that my teacher goals align with student goals, as diverse as they might be.

Overall, I enjoyed PD Day 1. I feel like I learned a lot and was even able to speak up at times about some of the teacher focuses and objectives for the year! Hooray for a week full of prepping and starting classes in the near future!

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