Related: Continuing Education, Matthew Przydzial

From the Trinity Classroom to Your Classroom


 By Matthew Przydzial, Adjunct Faculty 

checklistIt’s a part of life, some things we rush through just to check them off our list and some things we devote much of our energy to.

Raise your hand if this describes you (I’ll never know if you actually raised it): you rush through Continuing Education courses required for your licensure or your Master’s+30, simply checking boxes, and then complain when other professional development opportunities are a waste of time. Full disclosure – my hand used to be raised so high it was practically touching the ceiling. I never complained out loud but often thought to myself “Really? Another easel and chart paper activity?” Only recently, have I changed my attitude when it comes to professional development and continuing education courses.

So how did I change my ways? Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to become that person in the audience that hangs on every single solitary word the presenter speaks and nods 37 times a minute. Or that person that transcribes the sessions as if they’re a court stenographer. No, I’m politely suggesting that you approach professional development and Continuing Ed. Courses with one simple question – How will this affect my teaching and my students? I began doing this with during my own professional development and I create my Trinity courses (MAED 556 Discrete Math for Teachers K-6 & MAED 523 Calculus Concepts for the Classroom) to accommodate teachers in this manner. I try to structure the assignments in such a way that most of them will make their way into the teacher’s classrooms as soon as possible.

I used to attend conferences and trainings, taking notes like I would need to study these notes for an imaginary exam later in the week. When I returned to school, I would file the notes in the drawer we all have that has become a bottomless pit of nothing. I’m fairly certain I have notes from my first day back to school eight years ago in that drawer – which is great in case I ever need to know what room Lunch Help was during the 2006-07 school year. I consider myself a fairly organized teacher but there will always be those papers that just don’t seem to fit in a folder and for me, those are notes from professional development meetings, conferences, or courses I’ve taken.

These days, I’ve changed my approach. I divide my paper into two columns: Teaching ideas and ideas for lessons. Teaching ideas are approaches to teaching that will work for nearly any lesson – a movement activity or a seating arrangement. I don’t feel a need to write why these methods are successful or what type of students they work for. If I’m writing it down – I’m interested and don’t need to be convinced. These ideas normally work their way into my brain and hopefully I won’t need to come back to this list to remind myself. But if I do, there they are. The other column is for lesson ideas. If a speaker is presenting an activity that could be used in my classroom, I immediately start brainstorming ways this would work in my classroom – which unit it belongs in, how it might work for my classroom, and what the instructions to my students would be. If I have my laptop, I immediately start typing up the sheet I would give to the students with instructions or into the presentation I would use to present it. Sometimes, I’ll open the lesson that I currently use and in the last slide, type bulleted notes so when I get ready to teach that lesson again, I recall how it can be

So the next time you’re taking that Trinity course and an instructor asks you to create a lesson plan or an activity, instead of heading to your virtual Rolodex and pulling out that lesson plan you’ve used for six assignments previously, why not create one that you could actually use? Help yourself develop professionally and save some room in the bottomless drawer – you’ll need it for this coming year’s pre-school year activities.


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