professional learning


Hear that? It’s the shuffling of papers back and forth as John and I are reviewing proposals for this year’s conference. This is one of those episodes of my work life that I look forward to. Really. It’s lots of work, but the kind that I want to dive into and indulge in. People submit problems and pose real solutions, and I get to be one of the first two people to interact with this. Generally, John makes a run through with edits and comments along with his advice and recommendation; and then I get to follow, either adding to or countering the advice he gives. There’s this strangely effective and engaging trialogue going on between the original author and the two reviewers. This gets captured in the margins of the page and our colored-font appendices of each of your papers, and it often extends into the final draft and presentation.

And then there’s this anticipation, like the one I start to develop as I look at a summer concert lineup or a beer tap list. We get to see these pieces and not only help with their development, but also imagine how they’ll pair with others in incubator sessions as well as the overall program. It’s a very human endeavor, complete with a true excitement. Those of you attending this fall will see John and I hopping up and down like little 8-year-old boys, delighted to see our friends and the party that has finally started after all those months of planning.

All this has been swimming in my consciousness as I just saw that our publication about Crossroads has just come out to press in the slick pages of ASCD’s Educational Leadership:

Settlage, J. & Johnston, A. (2014). The Crossroads Model. Educational Leadership, 71(8), 67-70.

You’re welcome to cite this often. It’s also useful to show to deans, spouses, and others who may doubt that this meeting and its format could be a real thing. Some of you are even described and photographed within this 4-page documentary.

The piece is inserted into a focused issue entitled, “Professional Learning Reimagined.” We thought that Crossroads was a good example of this reimagination, and this gave us a good forum to present and document the model. Yet, the most striking thing to me is that within this issue our model is sandwiched in between descriptions of a MOOC model and a “flipped” model for professional development. These are both perfectly legitimate and important in this day and age, but as I’ve described the human elements of the conversation before and during Crossroads, I realize that our very simple, low-tech model of describing a problem and talking to one another may actually be a genuine innovation. When we crafted Crossroads, the impetus was a frustration that other conference structures — including every technology introduced to meetings — actually place barriers between people. If Crossroads does nothing else, I hope that it continues to forge connections between us and between our professional efforts. I can’t think of anything more vital in professional learning.

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