Sidebar Conversations During P.D./Meetings

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Moogeeg, Nov 4, 2014.

  1. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    I will preface this with mentioning that I am a first-year teacher, so this is all pretty new to me.

    Today, I attended an AWESOME professional development conference. I was, however, absolutely astounded at the sidebar conversations going on between attendees (teachers) at full voice volume! There were two tables in a fairly small six-table room that were talking so loudly that the presenter was barely audible. I have also noticed similar behaviors in my school's staff meetings.

    Is this normal? The presenter did not say anything or address the issue. Have you ever had a presenter call out those who were having sidebar conversations? Do any of you call out colleagues/fellow attendees when they are doing this?

    I am curious to hear all of your input.
     
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  3. happybat4

    happybat4 Rookie

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    Always happens at PD meetings and staff meetings I have had. Don't know why teachers are so bad at listening and not talking.
     
  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Teachers are just as bad as their students during PD. Most PD presenters will do nothing. But ones who are good (and have probably been teachers or admin) will call them out on it.

    It's the same thing with classroom management. If you stay on top of it, and call them out when it happens, it will happen less. If you try to ignore it, the talking will just increase.
     
  5. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Not out of the norm in my experience.
     
  6. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    .

    That makes sense. Sometimes P.D. sessions are longer than they have to be, or simply not engaging.

    I am glad to hear that some presenters have the guts to actually call teachers out- it would definitely make you unpopular in the moment, though!

    My mother was also a teacher, and she attributes it to teachers not having enough time in general to just share and talk. I can see her side of things as well.
     
  7. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Teachers are just as bad as students.
     
  8. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I'm guilty. We've had some awful PD in the past. Power points read to us word for word, someone taking half an hour to explain how to create a folder in their online program, that same person explaining what a hyperlink is for another 20 minutes (I kid you not). It was awful. I could feel the pain of my students then. It was so bad, our district refused to pay the rest of the money owed.

    At times like that, I just need some human interaction to make me feel not crazy. I was probably rude, and I did feel somewhat bad.
     
  9. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    That is always a problem. It´s very irritating. Once when I was giving a PD I actually did call out two teachers and ask them have their conversation after the presentation. I find it very disrespectful. I also find it disrespectful when other teachers bring work to grade through a meeting. Sorry, but the message your sending is you have better things to do. Maybe you really do have better things to do, but I find it very rude.
     
  10. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I think it's difficult as a presenter to know how to handle that. You don't want to treat them like children, but you also want to make the experience valuable for everyone. We used to have an admin that would say "I'm waiting..." just like she would for students, but sometimes that would backfire and they'd just talk louder.
     
  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Not necessarily. A good presenter, like a good teacher, can hold everyone to the norms without creating friction. In our case, he told people at the beginning that one of his pet peeves was side-bar chats and to not be surprised if he calls us out on it. Those who were called out, knew what was coming, and he didn't do it in a way that unnecessarily embarrassed them.

    The same can be said for students. Still doesn't make it appropriate to interrupt.
     
  12. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    KinderCowgirl, I can imagine! There is a very fine line between treating adults like children and treating them like adults who should not be being disrespectful.

    TamiJ, I hear you, and I make sure not to do it.

    Peregrin5, it sounds like he handled it brilliantly.
     
  13. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Great presenters keep the tempo upbeat, throwing in enough curves and unexpected information to keep the participants on their toes. We could all present on "don't do this" presentations that would be better off as written handouts to peruse at your own time frame. Yet, these presenters are among the worst offenders when it comes to being super protective of their work, and are often the least willing to share their research/presentations with attendees. I love presenters who freely share their notes ahead of time, which frees me up to listen and put things into perspective. I am an auditory learner, so not having to take notes while I listen is a real plus. Often the sidebar conversations are on the subject matter, but the teachers simply don't want to ask the "dumb" question that we tell student "doesn't exist." Great presenters find out if this is social hour or a discussion about the presentation and modify their presentation accordingly.
     
  14. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    HTML:
    
    
    We often have people use juvenile attention getting strategies at our meetings. I will get quiet, but refuse to "clap twice if I can hear" the speaker. I appreciate a respectful "let's get started" and a respectful listener should get quiet at that point. There is no good reason for disrespect on either side.

    I think sidebars are rude, but sometimes PDs are pointless too. I totally sympathize with students after sitting through a dry lecture all day long.
     
  15. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Half the time I've been in a PD, teachers are on Facebook or elsewhere. I'll admit I've done that once in a while, but I try to have respect for those who are teaching the lesson.
     
  16. Nate

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    Always a problem. If I know that some of the "usual suspects" are going to be in a presentation, I make a point of sitting towards the front of the room.
     
  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Teachers are the worst audience members.
     
  18. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I've been to extremely boring conferences with 200 people in attendance and nobody made a peep. I did see people reading things in the mean time but not talking.
     
  19. UCLACareerChngr

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    In my experience, the teachers that are the worst at side bar conversations are also the ones that regularly write up students for doing the same thing in their classrooms...cracks me up.
     
  20. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Teachers are just as bad as students because we end up feeling the same way they do: trapped into doing something we don't want to do, don't find useful/relevant to our jobs, and needing time to process and share.

    My current district structures PD like this: the first half of the day is spent collaborating in small groups that we formed ourselves at the beginning of the year. We have a more-or-less structured task, but it is immediately useful and relevant to our work, and we formed our own essential questions and goals.

    The second half of the day is spent in break-out sessions taught by other teachers from our district on topics of their choosing. You get to choose the session that is of most interest/relevance to you, and if you get there and it turns out to be not what you expected, you are encouraged to leave and try another one. In my opinion, it is PERFECT! Not only is our district not spending $$$$$ on "expert consultants" coming in to yak at us for hours, but we get to choose what is most meaningful for us. I actually love our PD for the first time in my career! I wish more districts would follow a similar model.

    The need for relevance, engagement, and self-selection isn't just unique to teachers and students...it's human nature.
     
  21. Rox

    Rox Cohort

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    Ms. Irene, I love that model! It makes so much sense to learn from those that are experiencing and working on similar things as we are. Does your district have a difficult time recruiting teachers that are willing/capable to lead these sessions?
     
  22. UCLACareerChngr

    UCLACareerChngr Comrade

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    Ms Irene -

    Our district went to a similar model this year, and yes, it's definitely better, but we still have the (small) group of teachers who still have the same "waste of time" attitude. It's funny to hear them actually say "I don't need to learn anything new, just give me time to grade papers in my room." The lifelong learning concept is lost on them, unfortunately.
     
  23. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Rox, I really do love it...and I never would have thought I would be saying that about PD! I don't think they have too much trouble recruiting people since there are always a ton of presenters, but we are a pretty huge district. It's fairly low-pressure since it's more of a sharing best practices rather than one person being "the expert." Some of the sessions have been very interactive, allowing time for teachers to experiment with new tech, for example. I am considering stepping up myself once I finish with BTSA next semester...maybe!
     
  24. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Yep, we for sure have those too...I feel like there's no excuse for this especially right now with all the new stuff being thrown at us (tech, common core, etc), but I can also see why some people might be wanting to bury their heads in the sand and hope it will all go away.
     
  25. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Don't you sometimes wonder how teachers who should be leading the crusade to create life-long learners can be so short sighted about their own need to practice what they preach? I have always observed that students can spot the phony who says do as I say, not as I do, and credibility is lost. When learning is no longer stimulating and exciting, it may well be time to walk away from teaching as a profession. I'm not sure what you replace it with, since the need to continuously learn and evolve is vital to most jobs that are stimulating and engaging, but students deserve better than the teachers who believe they learned everything they ever needed to learn in their undergraduate career. Ms. Irene, go for that presentation. Your enthusiasm for the model comes through loud and clear in your posts, and that is 90% of the war already won. ;)
     
  26. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Aw thanks, lynettestoy! :blush:

    I'm not sure what I would present on...I still feel like such a newbie!
     
  27. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Weren't we all new at something at one time or another? You obviously know enough to understand what works - I have faith in you!
     
  28. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    The other day, all district principals and vice principals had an important meeting (all of us together in one room is a rare occurrence).

    Anyway, the associate superintendent said, "You all are the absolute worst audience!" He was referring to all the side conversations.
     
  29. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I like useful trainings, but can't say all trainings are. In any case, I get wanting time to do grading. All the other stuff is pretty worthless, IMO, if you aren't getting time for basic tasks.

    We have training coming out of our ears right now. I am someone who honestly enjoys growing professionally, but all I want is time to do some things on my nevetending to do list right now.
     
  30. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    When I did my student teaching way back when we were required to attend staff meetings. My picture of a teacher at the time was a professional who didn't smoke, drink and attended church everyday after school.

    At the first staff meeting a first-year teacher, at the request of the principal, was presenting information from a conference she attended. One could tell by the overlays, flip charts and handouts she had gone to great lengths, time and effort to plan her presentation. She was, also, quite nervous (as could be expected). I had my notebook out ready to take notes. About three minutes into her presentation I looked around the room. Two teachers were correcting papers. Four were talking amongst themselves. One teacher had a ball of yarn in her lap and was knitting. Of the sixteen teachers perhaps six were giving eye contact and paying attention. The presenter noticed the lack of concern and disrespect and began to lose her train of thought. She burst out crying and ran from the room.

    Later I asked the principal how such disrespect and rudeness is tolerated. He told me if it was to him he would fire those teachers. He went on to add they would never try that stuff in a private business setting like a bank meeting called by the president. When he tried to bring up the unprofessional conduct to the district he was rebuffed by the union arguing he was harassing the teachers.
     
  31. daisycakes

    daisycakes Companion

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    I was in an 8 hour meeting on Tuesday with just one presenter. It was just one of many meetings I have been to that are boring, unhelpful and exist only so that a district can say they offered pd. because the meetings are so useless and the presenters so bad, usually people do talk. I do not usually talk, but, in the past, I have done (and sometimes gotten in trouble for) grading, note writing to neighbors, messing around on my ipad, etc. I'm aware it is not the most respectful but I feel planning an 8 hour lecture for pd is also not respectful. If I see another teacher presenting information (for example a teacher at my school led a technology training this year), teachers will behave well. I also notice real teachers will call out others, even admins, for talking while they are presenting.
     
  32. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    You are right. In another profession, they would have had a "come-to-Jesus" meeting with the manager at which time they would have to decide whether to be professional from now on and/or be looking for a new job.

    So much for all of the discussions about respecting others and how in the "real world" certain behaviors will not be tolerated so students should learn how to be quiet, pay attention, and respect the person who has the floor. So much for the "real world".
     
  33. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    It sounds like some of your schools have done a great job combatting this problem. I think that comparing teachers to businessmen is an interesting point. Most in the corporate world wouldn't DARE have a full-on conversation while the CEO speaks, while many in our profession blatantly do so (superintendent or principal is the "CEO").
     
  34. GTB4GT

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    100% agree with this. I fired a young engineer once for texting during an important meeting regarding quality issues with our product that one of our larger customers was experiencing. Told him that his priorities weren't obviously aligned with the company's and that his judgement was poor. These are things that are easier corrected by replacement rather than by coaching imo.

    Once again, the issues discussed in this thread speak to the weak leadership that seems to be inherent in this profession. This is an issue that could be fixed and it sounds like some districts have taken steps to do so.

    It drives me crazy to go to PD and be distracted by all the other stuff that is going on. I feel like it is my colleagues and peers who make the day a waste rather than the presenter.
     
  35. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    I went to an awful PD conference this year. My whole school goes every year. This year, teachers blatantly talked and worked through all of it. But it was all telecast.
     
  36. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    When teachers are required to attend trainings that are not at all useful, these sorts of behaviors should be anticipated by whoever made the decision that teachers need to attend even if the information doesn't apply to them. I have attended multiple trainings each year for the past three years on the basics of working with English language learners--the basics. I am certified in TESL. Literally nothing presented in those trainings was new information for me. It's not that I know everything about TESL. Indeed, I would love to learn more. But what has been presented at these trainings is low-level, introductory stuff, nothing at a level that is appropriate for me.

    It's curious that we're encouraged and required to differentiate our instruction, but rarely do our teacher trainers differentiate instruction for us.

    Furthermore, don't we talk all the time about multiple intelligences and learning styles? Perhaps that knitter is listening closely while she knits. I myself often prefer to be doing something mindless, like playing a silly game on my phone, while listening to a presentation. My brain seems to hear it better when my hands are busy. I don't typically play games during presentations, mind you, because I think that it appears rude and disrespectful, so instead I doodle. A presenter might see me with my head down, appearing to be focused on my notepad or tablet. In reality, I am listening intently. My point here is that it's not always appropriate to judge others. Certainly there are those who are completely ignoring the presenters, but I think that it's fair to say that there are also many who are not.
     
  37. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I never get how teachers can hear sooo much about the importance of keeping lessons engaging and relevant, and then be required to attend unengaging, irrelevant lectures that last all day long.

    I get when kids can't sit. I can't sit. And I also am a doodler and mover - it helps me concentrate.
     
  38. DrivingPigeon

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    This is always the case for PD that I've experienced...So embarrassing.
     
  39. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I'm a college student, and the only PDs I have been to are in the summer program that I taught at, which were small group and very interactive. I loved them!

    I'm honestly surprised that teachers would talk during presentations. I don't think I would do that no matter how boring it was. As a student, I have sat through many boring lectures and have dealt with it, so I imagine I would do the same.
     
  40. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Write that on a board somewhere and just look at it and smile as you head off to some of the PD. Some is wonderful, some you need five cups of coffee to get through. I love the attitude, though, I truly do. ;)
     
  41. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I may not talk - unless someone says something to me - but I will read, correct papers, surf the web/watch tv on mute, or file papers if I am at a pointless PD. And pretty much every PD I attend at my school - which refuses to let our teachers attend non-school based PDs on district PD days - are pointless. These PD days are like day-long staff meetings; there is no real professional development on improving instructional methods.
     

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