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  • Derek Stoppels

Learning to Dance

It still surprises me that I have to remind people that teachers still have to work on PD days. The students stay home, and usually it's a day before a long weekend (kids get four days off), but teachers are still going into work for Professional Development. That's what PD stands for, professional development. I think people should be glad that teachers get days to work on, discuss and improve their professional practice.


Three years ago, Peter Gamwell, author of The Wonder Wall, came to my school to give a presentation on his book and his work. It was about the need to inspire creativity in our students and the importance of it in this age and day. His presentation was amazing...and so is his book! After his presentation, I waited around so I could speak with him and tell him how much I enjoyed the presentation and the book, and I got a little "fan boy" and asked him to autograph my book, to which he graciously agreed.

He wrote me a nice message and then ended it by writing:

Remember - learn how to dance

I was talking to him about some of the challenges I was facing as a teacher and that I thought there needed to be some systemic changes. I still think this is true but his advice to me then, resounds today. He told me that I wasn't going to be able to make changes at any levels above me, so I should really only try to worry about making the changes that I can make at level at which I find myself. He said if I wanted to really make change, I was going to have to learn how to dance.


I have to learn how to dance within the system in which I am working. And I have a good feeling that if enough people are dancing, the level above us are going to have to change their tune!


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Ottawa, ON, Canada

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