Professional Development Meme 2009

Usually the end of the school year is a signal for me to change.

I change my alarm clock so that it does not go off at 4:25AM, and I try to train my body not to wake up then (or earlier) anyway.

I change my wardrobe to shorts, sandals and polo shirts I could never wear at school because they have logos for Bacardi, Bass or Bishop’s Finger.

I try to forget, at least for a week, that I’m a teacher; hard to do this year because an alleged friend has issued a challenge to me in what seems to be a teacher professional development game of Can You Top This?

I can’t.

The friend, Karen Chichester, a very dedicated high school special education teacher in the lowest depths of Michigan, has set a summer personal development agenda for herself that would take me several years to complete. I would tell you what her goals are, but I don’t type fast enough to list it all before I have to return to school in September.

Bully for her.

She would not let it go at that. She had to challenge me to do the same and sent me the rules of the game. Just for the record, it is not her game. The well-know sadomasochist Clif Mims (@clifmims on Twitter) developed the following meme and posted it to his blog (MY first goal will be to find out what a meme is).


Summer can be a great time for professional development. It is an opportunity to learn more about a topic, read a particular work or the works of a particular author, beef up an existing unit of instruction, advance one’s technical skills, work on that advanced degree or certification, pick up a new hobby, and finish many of the other items on our ever-growing To Do Lists. Let’s make Summer 2009 a time when we actually get to accomplish a few of those things and enjoy the thrill of marking them off our lists.

The Rules

NOTE: You do NOT have to wait to be tagged to participate in this meme. (But I’m tagging Sandra McCarron, Carol Johnson, Kate Olson, and Luciano D’Orazio)

1. Pick 1-3 professional development goals and commit to achieving them this summer.
2. For the purposes of this activity the end of summer will be Labor Day (09/07/09).
3. Post the above directions along with your 1-3 goals on your blog.
4. Title your post and link back/trackback to
5. Use the following tag/ keyword/ category on your post: pdmeme09.
6. Tag 5-8 others to participate in the meme.
7. Achieve your goals and “develop professionally.”
8. Commit to sharing your results on your blog during early or mid-September.

So here goes.

My goals:

1. My first goal will be to find out what a meme is while learning all I can about integrating technology into my teaching. I am starting work on this goal within hours of the time classes end on June 26th when I’ll board a train for Washington, DC to attend the National Educational Computing Conference for the first time. This goal is so important to me that I am paying for the convention registration, transportation, hotel and everything else myself. I expect to come away with enough new information, ideas, hands-on experience and resources to start on my second goal.

2. Come September, I’ll be spending part of my time teaching American history to 7th and 8th grade students. The New York City Department of Education, largely in the large personage of a smart and garrulous fellow named Phil Panaritis, has been training me for this role for the five years I’ve been a teacher. My goal is to learn the scope and sequence of those two curricula, to design a sequence of multi-sensory lessons that integrate technology into the teaching and student demonstrations of learning, and gather artifacts\, maps, and other items to pique student interest.

3. Thanks to my membership in ASCD, NCSS, and a few other organizations I have a pile of books sent to me that is threatening to topple off the two chairs on which I’ve piled them and bury at least one of our animals. I am not likely to read any of them because I will be reading books that I have purchased and not yet read starting with Teaching for Intellectual and Emotional Learning (TIEL) by Christy Folsom, Polk: the man who transformed the presidency and America, by Walter Borneman, and Ship Ablaze: the tragedy of the steamboat General Slocum by Edward O’Donnell. Fortunately, the train ride to DC takes about four hours, so I’ll finish one of these on the ride down and back.

4. I will read a novel. I used to read a lot of novels, but now I seem only to be able to read one a year. I don’t yet know what this year’s will be, but I hope I enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants last year.

5. I plan to lie down on a bed of grass and watch the sky drift by. This is something I did when I was nine or ten because it made precious summer days seem to last forever. I know that does not sound like a professional development goal, but I’m giving myself the freedom to have freedom from needing to fill every moment productively. Filling every moment productively does not allow time for reflection, imagination, and whatever else drifts in to fill the void I hope to have in my mind cause by concentrating on the smell of the grass, the color of the sky and the laziness of the clouds.

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5 Responses to Professional Development Meme 2009

  1. Lucia Meyerson says:

    Well, What can say. I am AWED by your dedication to teaching and your desire to elevate our profession to new heights. Yes, do read all that you can, especially that which will translate into practical and inspired teaching practices. I too want to know what a MEME is so please..pass it on.

  2. Truly, you can’t be closed to the “bottom” of Michigan than where I teach. Most of the people in this town go to Toledo, Ohio for everything rather than north to Detroit.

    So who did you tag for this meme?

    • Deven Black says:

      I put who I tagged into the posting. They are Sandra McCarron, Carol Johnson, Kate Olson, and Luciano D’Orazio. Sandra is a HS science teacher in Massachusetts who I know originally from, Carol is a special education colleague at my school, Kate is a special education teacher in Wisconsin I first met on twitter (which, for those listening in at home, is where I know Karen from, too). Luciano is a history teacher and staff trainer for the NYCDOE and the only person I know who has competed on Jeopardy. They are all exceptional teachers who I am sure will rise to the challenge.

  3. Mary Rodger says:

    What a great idea. Thanks for sharing it. I think my first goal will have to be to figure out how to write a blog as opposed to just reading them. You have an ambitious summer ahead of you. I especially like your 5th goal. It’s easy to forget to take the time to reflect, but it’s such an important part of the learning process. And when you find out what a meme is, please share.

  4. ldorazio1 says:

    Jeez, and here I was wasting my time blogging about the Iranian elections…

    I’ll need a few days to actually get the fortitude to even make a list, Dev. After I finish the Pre-K to 5 Social Studies curriculum for the school, including periodic assessments and tracking. Fun, fun, fun.

    Find me a pistol.

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