Ode to PCMI

After three weeks at the Park City Math Institute (for the second summer in a row!), I have to begin this blog with love for the folks at PCMI.  If I hadn’t attended, I would not have met the lovely people that guided me to this blog.  It’s due to them that I am now blogging, tweeting, polling, facebooking, texting, youtubing, metubing…Shameless brown nosing aside, let’s move on.

I’m now at a Debate  Across the Curriculum (DAC) conference in Boston, and it is the perfect complement to PCMI.  After three weeks of theory and discussion, I’m now attending a week of concrete lesson planning (but more on this conference later).  Looking back at my three weeks in Utah, I’m realizing that for me the most important part of most conferences and professional development opportunities is the free time.  By this, I mean the chances we get to talk with colleagues about our ideas and practices.  My first summer at PCMI there were so many “parking lot conversations” that just happened as we were walking, rambling about our lives and somehow getting into a deep discussion about teaching.

That said, in the spirit of debate, I’d like to hear your thoughts, for or against the following claim.  Since debate is in the title of the blog (and a large part of my job), I thought it’d be great to end each blog with a topic to debate.  I’m starting easy this time.  Please leave comments below with your thoughts.

CLAIM: Professional development opportunities and conferences should be reduced to allow for more conversations between teachers.

4 thoughts on “Ode to PCMI

  1. JJR August 16, 2011 / 7:14 am

    I entirely agree. In fact I think teacher training should be largely made up of following an experienced teacher around, chatting to teachers and kids, experimenting and then analysing the said experiments. The more talking and listening to ordinary, practicing teachers the better!

    • pispeak August 16, 2011 / 11:56 pm

      Thanks JJR. I like that idea. It’s like a residency, similar to the medical profession…

  2. Sam C August 16, 2011 / 9:47 pm

    Yes, but a good priming and prompting can lead to much deeper and more productive discussions IMO. So… I agree that PCMI struck a skilled balance between facilitated sessions and open-ended blocks of time.

    BTW, what speech and debate events do you coach? I did model congress in hs.

    • pispeak August 16, 2011 / 11:58 pm

      I think PCMI could have used more breaks or time to discuss topics that we’re brought up (especially during Reflecting on Practice). I would have preferred a longer day with more breaks where discussions could continue.

      I coach all Speech events (Duo, DI, HI, OI, Dec, Extemp, OO) and some Student Congress. Working on building the debate side of things…


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