As I continue to reflect on the Technology in the Early Years conference I attended this past week, one of the things that keeps coming back to me is the idea of teachers and play. Professionals who support best practice recognize the importance of play as the learning vehicle for young children. We fight for play in our classrooms, libraries, parks, streets, and homes and design our classrooms and lessons so that children can engage in meaningful and collaborative play. And yet, that very same philosophy could apply to adults, but is so often taken out of the equation when planning for professional development of teachers.
|Children play so freely and with complete abandon.|
What types of walls are preventing adults from doing the same?
The play had allowed the participants to take ownership of their learning. This was a powerful interaction for me to watch. Throughout the course of my internship, a big idea that I have been playing with has been how the current model of teacher PD is not effective and how I can influence the course of PD to flow in a new direction. Watching the participants play with the materials was like a bell going off. Could it be so simple? Could designing spaces and providing time and support for play change the ways in which teachers learn and their attitudes towards attending professional development events?
|A fortune I received while at dinner at the 2011 NAEYC conference.|
Perhaps it is time to heed this advice and teach teachers to play like children.
I'm in the process of designing a new system of networking for teachers within my internship and have been facing hurdles in how to get a group of stressed, over loaded with district mandates, and often frustrated teachers onboard with the use of technology to network and learn. Maybe I need to simplify it, to bring it back to play. Rather than sharing success stories and ideas, I need to give the teachers time to create their own success stories by allowing them time to play with the very tools I want them to embrace to enhance their learning.