Professional Development while Jogging and in the Car

I am in my office 3 weeks before school starts- which is late for me and for most band directors…getting odds and ends done and getting a feel for the coming year…

I try to jog about 30 minutes to an hour in the morning and I have a 45 minute commute to and from school.  I usually listen to music on my ipod while I run and to satellite radio in the car to pass the time, but lately I have been getting professional development from the likes of Alan November and David Warlick via their podcasts while I am on the go.  Recently I upgraded my factory stereo to an inexpensive unit that has an auxiliary in jack.  This enabled me to plug in my ipod and satellite radio without having to go through the RF frequency transmitter (which is not nearly so convenient or effective as the manufacturer would have you think).  This has given me the opportunity to have professional development “on demand”.

Now, of course there must be time for recreational listening and we can’t always be “on”, but it has actually helped pass the time by engaging my brain during two relatively unpleasant “mindless” tasks. (You can only listen to so much sports and news talk shows…) I used to get very defensive and frustrated with my administration and my colleagues when they would bring up the subject of “continuous improvement”.  My immediate response would be “I just don’t have time!” Truth is, we ALL only have 24 hours in the day and it is what we choose to do with it that defines us.  So I have carved out almost 2 1/2 hours during the day that I can listen to what I am interested in and what I feel will be relevant to my development- it seems like such a simple concept, and I’m sure that the readers of this blog and most of your friends have already discovered this, but for me it was very empowering.

I am currently searching and adding podcasts to my itunes RSS and I’m finding that there is so much out there that I couldn’t possibly listen to it all but here is the big difference- IT’S ON MY TERMS, so if I don’t feel like working my intellect after a particularly stressful day, I don’t!  But when the urge strikes me at 4:30 in the morning to find out about the latest web 2.0 applications, I can dial it up on demand.  Very empowering.

Just think what that simple scenario I just described would do to our classroom- students could learn on their terms, when the information would “sink in” and they are ready for it rather than cramming it down their throats when they are at the least receptive time.  I really think I’m going to take a look at podcasting some important lesson concepts and showing my students where they can access the information when they need it.  I know you can’t make the horse drink the water you led them to, but at least they can have an adequate supply so that they can drink when they are thirsty.

By the way, my new stereo has a neat feature that plays CD’s with mp3’s and wma files.  Now I don’t have to import my recordings of rehearsals into itunes before I burn the files to CD- I can listen on the way home (either on the CD which gives me a portfolio of rehearsal progress OR straight from the recorder’s headphone jack) I think that my commute in the fall will be taken up by analyzing my band’s performance on a daily basis (or at least as much as I can stand…) more on this later.

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