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There is a Forest in My Acorn

Yolanda Wheelington Education, Education Policy, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership

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I was listening to a minister speak on the importance of recognizing untapped potential. He used an acorn as the example and expounded on all that it can become when put in its right environment. In fact, each acorn has the potential to develop into a forest although it can fit in the palm of your hand. This has stayed with me and has been helpful in realizing the unseen potentials in my students, my school, and myself.

While reading Jen Hudson’s article Developing PD Attitudes, I reflected on how powerful professional development (PD) opportunities are for me and so many of my colleagues. The truth is professional development matters. While it may have different values for different people, we tend to turn to them to:

  • sharpen and deepen our skills
  • reignite our passions or explore new ones
  • reconnect with the profession and fellow teachers

In short, I LOVE quality PDs and I have to admit I was getting excited thinking about what I would seek out.  As I sat thinking about my needs for this year, the thought “there is a forest in your acorn” came back to me. In the place of the acorn was the many professional developments that I have already participated in and how much they impacted me. I began to wonder

“Did I really go as deep as I could have? Did I use everything that I gained?”

The honest answer was no. I decided to go back through my Montessori albums, participant notes, and books with fresh eyes and I discovered that I saw the information differently. The additional knowledge and experience that I have gained over the years helped me see the theories, lessons, and materials in a deeper and more impactful way.

I was suddenly excited again and I felt fresh and ready! I felt like I had participated in an impactful professional development opportunity!

So my friend, I encourage you to pull out those records, folders, and books from previous PDs…the great ones and the not so great…and look again. Ask yourself:

  • Did I follow through with that plan?
  • How is this applying to my class today?
  • Is this still relevant? What can I add on to this? What do I need to take out?
  • If I try this with my current students, how might it turn out?
  • Can I share or teach others about this?

Going through these activities might refresh your soul just like it did mine.

Do not get me wrong, I do plan to participate in some form of professional development this year. In fact, the Arizona K12 Center (AZK12) has diverse offerings this school year that I am excited to explore!  Now that I took the time to take inventory and activate the previous knowledge I received, I am confident that I will be able to select ones that will better reflect my true needs.

 

Yolanda Wheelington

Phoenix, Arizona

Yolanda has taught for the past 7 years in the Phoenix Elementary School District. Her passion for developing and supporting the human potential is evident in the cross-curricular work done her classroom. She is a member of the Association Montessori International and is a RODEL Scholar. Yolanda earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology from The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.), a Master’s in Social Work and a Master’s in Education (Special Education) from Arizona State University, and a diploma in Lower Elementary Education for ages 6-12 from the Montessori Institute of North Texas.

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Comments 2

  1. Jen Hudson

    I love the idea of revisiting previously attended PD materials! I am definitely not the teacher I was 12 years ago! Yes, the world (and the students who inhabit it) have changed since I started teaching, but sound educational theory and practice really hasn’t. Time to dust off the files and dig through the Drive! Thank you for this challenge!

  2. Randi Fielding

    Hi Yolanda,
    I really appreciated your post. When I participate in PD, I’ll usually jot notes of action items, draw a star next to them, and revisit each star until I’m able to put a check mark by each one. But by going back through those notes and even rereading those stars that have a check mark, I can take my practice deeper now that I’ve gained more experience since implementing those previous ideas. I think sometimes we’re hungry for those new ideas, but forget about those old ideas that are still really relevant.
    Thank you for the post!

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