On our annual Labor Day trip, my son and I drove down the dusty drive to the Krueger Family Pepper Farm to get produce to make fresh Pico de Gallo. After bagging up bells, aconcoguas, jalapenos, roma tomatoes, onions and garlic, we discovered we were short on cash.
The cashier quickly dismissed our concern, “Just send us a check when you get home from your vacation. We trust you.”
“That just doesn’t happen,” my son said. “We don’t come across trust like that often.”
In professional development I want the teachers in attendance to feel like we did—that they are trusted to know what they need for their own learning. Article Smorgasbord is a small- and large-group activity I’ve been perfecting to meet this need.
If you think of a smorgasbord you probably envision a multitude of dishes crowding a table. That’s the idea. I’ll take a topic like research, for example, and provide five or six different articles exploring unique aspects of the topic. If I have a diverse group, I consider brand new teachers and veterans as well as kindergarten teachers and middle school folks.
Before inviting participants to the smorgasbord, I do a quick article talk explaining what each choice is about and why it might be appealing. Then I place several copies in different locations on tables or around the room as if I’m setting up a buffet. When I’ve finished, participants stand up and take the article or two that whets their learning appetite. After about ten minutes of independent reading time, adults congregate where they picked up their article and have a chance to discuss it with one or two others.
Here’s an example of four free online resources that might work if you are discussing elementary research:
Student Research: The Right Information at the Right Time
Doing Internet Research at the Elementary Level
Research IS the Project
Why Kids Can’t Search
As a professional developer I want my participants to hear the message loud and clear: I trust you to know what you need and I’m attending to your learning.
What ways are you trusted in your own professional development? How do you apply that in your own leadership?
And while Pico de Gallo means “rooster’s beak” in Spanish, there are no animal parts to be found in this delicious fresh salsa. Here’s a recipe and some beautiful pictures from the farm we visited: