Saturday, April 30, 2016

Giving Professional Development on a Friday from 3-5 at Yale is Abusive...But I Tried to Make It Fun. Finger Puppets.

I was asked to give a two hour workshop for leadership teams who work with college-bound youth in urban schools on college-ready writing and the college essay.

I'm always amused when I only have two hours to cover such a broad topic with an audience I don't know, but like I learned with writing, knowing the audience was key. Who in their right mind would want to be in a two hour training on a Friday afternoon before being released to the weekend.

I felt the drain the second the leaders entered the room. The last thing they wanted was a workshop, especially since they spent the entire week working in schools where youth face some of the most difficult obstacles in the nation.

They arrived already spent.

Still, I came prepared and gave everyone a finger puppet. My request was that they remain playful for two more hours. I definitely overplanned and got to 1/20th of what I prepared, but they seemed to crack up and smile along the way. I armed them with examples and tools they can use when conferencing one on one with kids.

I left feeling a little panicked that they needed more direct instruction of do this, and do this, and never do that, and do this...but that's not my style. I made it National Writing Project style.

I guessed when a woman came up afterwards and asked, "Do you also do workshops on how to do effective workshops? I want to learn how to engage people like you did," that the exercise was successful.

In contrast, sitting in traffic from New Haven to Stratford was not a success. That corridor of I-95 is horrendous. 

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