Power Washing Removes The Top Layer of Dirt

I power-washed part of my patio in preparation for International PatioPD Day. What a joy. That device that I haven’t used for several years hooked right up, started right up, and gave me a tremendous level of satisfaction as it immediately removed strips of caked on dirt that I didn’t even know were there. Took it right off. Methodically, perfectly, consistently. Power-washing the patio is like coloring for adults. And I love it.

But as therapeutic and fulfilling as it was, it was clear to see that power-washing just scratches the surface. More accurately, it scratches OFF the old surface, and reveals a cleaner fresher surface. But it doesn’t go deep, and it doesn’t expand beyond the patio. Obviously.

It took the educators who showed up to go deeper and think expansively. Like the power-washer was the tool to get the process started, the patio was the tool to bring us all together to think, and talk, and question, and share, and nod our heads, and commit to trying something new. 

PatioPD is a special kind of personalized PD that brings educators together periodically to explore exactly what they need in an informal setting, get ideas and hear stories from teachers in their district and other districts, and get the opportunity to create, plan, and start various processes for their students that they will add more to later.

Let’s have an in-depth discussion about the use of textbooks in education and explore all sides. Let’s talk about what it means in your classroom when someone tweets that if you can google the answer, you shouldn’t ask the question. What does that lesson plan look like? Let’s get into the weeds on the impact of formative assessments, feedback, grades, homework, and more as it relates to student learning, preparation for the future, and engagement in the classroom. This isn’t the cursory, scratch the surface, make it all pretty, mention and move on statement. This conversation goes deep, and it leaves each participant thinking there are even deeper conversations to have on these topics.

But not only that. We go beyond the patio too. The “have you tried” conversations, and the “what if” conversations are expansive. We talk about getting students to summarize or explain, and ask “Have you tried making that into a movie trailer where you give them the intro and outro and they supply the content in the middle?” We ask, “What if you used google calendar to remind you to connect with friends and family during the school year to make it feel more like summer, and wrote a check-list in a small notebook of all the things you’re anxious about on Sunday night & see how many you actually (don’t) check off during the week to alleviate some of those icky anticipatory feelings?” And “Have you tried LessonPaths as a curation location for the short videos you want your elementary students to have as exemplars of the activities you’ll have them do in your phy ed class?” Or “What if you gamified this, or added music to that, or used memes to practice summarizing content, or showed an 8-minute sunset as a timer, or tried a “moving Kahoot,” or deployed Socrative instead of Flubaroo, or leveraged a 10-minute tune-up, or employed ‘save as doc,’ and on and on and on…” PatioPD goes well beyond the patio. And the learning and applying keeps going after the session is over. So many times educators come to the next PatioPD session and show what they created on their own between the sessions. It’s expansive AND continuous.

Yes, power-washing is like coloring for adults, but PatioPD allows us to color outside of the lines, draw our own lines, and turn the page to create our own non-linear applications. We can go beyond the surface to consider impacts, create life-changing lessons, and honor the voices of other professionals while filtering them through our own values.

It’s nice to have everything clean, fresh, and tidy. And yet, sometimes it’s great to get beyond the patio into the dirt. To get our hands dirty and see where the digging takes us.