Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Don’t Judge the Creativity of All Chicago Teachers & PD Based On 1 Absurd Video

The 62 second video, “CPS Teacher Professional Development from CEO’s Network,” is being shared by a lot of folks on social media. Valerie Strauss posted it today on her blog for the Washington Post, The Answer Sheet, with the title, “A video that shows why teachers are going out of their minds.” Larry Ferlazzo posted it with the title, “Though It Seems Like A Parody, It’s A Real Professional Development Event.” Diane Ravitch shared the video with the title, “Watch How CPS Turns Adults into Chanting Children.” If you ever suspected teacher professional development can devolve into scripted, “parrot back after me” theater, this video confirms your worst fears.

The video, posted on February 17th, includes this description:

This presenter was one of several consultants flown in from California and the United Kingdom for the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Strategic School Support Services’ special network. This is a professional development for teachers of Saturday ISAT preparation classes.

I agree with others that it’s both depressing and maddening that teachers ANYWHERE would be subjected to such an insulting “professional development experience.” While, as Larry acknowledges, it can be easy to take a short video clip out of context, it’s hard to imagine how this scene could be anything but unprofessional and inappropriate. It’s a good use of social media for a participant in the training to document and share this madness. Hopefully the transparency this affords will not just publicly shame those responsible for subjecting Chicago Public Schools teachers to this kind of scripted training… it will lead to change in the quality and format of professional development consultants hired by CPS… and eventually to a paradigm shift overall in PD.

The bigger point I want to make in this post, however, isn’t to further lament the PD experience that video highlights. I want to encourage you, as an individual, NOT to stereotype and condemn all teachers and professional development in Chicago Public Schools based on this video. Some of the most innovative, creative, digitally-saavy, passionate teachers and child-advocates I know on the planet teach in Chicago Public Schools. This video does not represent or reflect the high-quality, cutting-edge, professional, and engaging professional development THEY help develop and facilitate for fellow teachers in Chicago Public Schools. All too often, people today watch a YouTube video like this, shake their heads, and either form a stereotype or reinforce a stereotype which is universally unfair and inaccurate. If your reaction to this video was going to follow this pattern, I hope this post and the links I provide will change that reaction.

If you’re not already, you need to follow these Chicago teachers on Twitter. You can also find them by following the #BurNTA hashtag on Twitter:

I was blessed to hear Jennie and Autumn present at the International Educational Technology Conference (ISTE) last summer in San Antonio, and their presentation (“Amplifying Our Students: Social Media in the Classroom”) was hands-down the best presentation of the entire conference – including all the keynote addresses I attended. These Chicago Public Schools’ teachers GET IT and they SHARE IT: The passion to teach, collaborate, create and re-invent which as parents we want and need for ALL the teachers our children have in school. In addition to listening to the audio podcast of Autumn and Jennie’s ISTE13 presentation, I challenge you to listen to the “Closing Keynote by the #BurNTA Collaborators” which I recorded last summer at the fantastic iPad Academy for Chicago Public Schools which this team organizes and leads each summer.

This is the same team from Chicago Public Schools which has invented and is now freely “franchising” the “PLAYDATE CHICAGO” professional development model. It’s coming again on March 8th. Contrast the 62 second CPS nightmare PD video above to the 51 second, “Is PLAYDATE right for you?” video published January 10th.

Yes, the CPS video PD video from February 17th is a horror. There are LOTS of things wrong with education and schools today, and a lot wrong with the ways “professional development” can be coercively imposed upon professional educators. There are some VERY innovative and amazing professional development collaborations simultaneously happening in Chicago Public Schools, however, and it would be an unfortunate error if you or I were to overlook or ignore this.

Don’t judge the creativity of all Chicago teachers & professional development opportunities based On 1 absurd video.

Pass it on.

Hat tip to Holly Ghere and Brian Crosby for sharing some of the links to posts about the originally embedded video via Twiter.

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One response to “Don’t Judge the Creativity of All Chicago Teachers & PD Based On 1 Absurd Video”

  1. […] their minds on the Washington Post blog, Answer Sheet. In the last couple of days I have also read Wes Fryer’s post, with a good reminder not to turn this into a stereotype and also Larry Ferlazzo’s blog, who […]