Reflecting on My Recent Professional Development Effort: The Power of Teacher Vertical and Cross-Curricular Collaboration

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All professional fields incorporate professional development (PD) into the structure of their occupations. There are always ideas to share and experiences to be had with the intent of growing employees or to simply improve one’s self. The unfortunate reality–at least in education–is a great deal of professional development can feel inadequate at best and a waste of time at worst. It is with this understanding of my own PD experiences that I went into planning a professional development of teachers in my cluster of schools with trepidation. To be transparent, I was nervous I would let my colleagues down and planning a PD experience that lacked the right substance and the right balance of experiential learning and collaboration with some dreaded sit-and-get as well. This was not my first rodeo–I had developed and delivered PD for others before, but rarely do I feel I hit the mark or pushed a narrative forward. Well, this time, this PD, felt different. I walked away after three days of rigorous work with my colleagues believing we had all experienced a PD worthy of our time, energy and effort. Continue reading

Dipping Our Toes into PBL: First Meeting with Ms. S and Ms. C

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Yesterday, I sat down with two science teachers in my school building, Ms. S (chemistry) and Ms. C (oceanography/biology), to start a conversation about developing project-based learning (PBL) in their classes.

Both are new PBL as an instructional method, but both are interested in developing their pedagogy to include PBL as a more authentic approach to their content. While Ms. S is planning more so for next year, Ms. C is working on a PBL for her oceanography students that would take place in March/April. Inside today’s post, I go through the pace of our conversation and the questions and concerns they both had moving forward into uncharted waters. Continue reading

Teacher Mentoring: What We Can Learn from Each Other

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Glenn and I giving the ol’ selfie side-eye.

Meet Glenn. Glenn is my wonderfully enthusiastic, bearded protege and mentee. While I certainly try to mentor as many teachers who are willing to listen to my wild ideas and peculiar practices, Glenn is official. This year marks the first year that my school is positioning veteran teachers (in this case teachers who have been at the school for over a year) alongside newcomers (teachers new to the school, not necessarily new to teaching). I worked closely with a colleague over the summer to build our buddy program. We developed the program to be a support for our newcomers, but also to be a boon for our school. Research, that I should be citing, I know, continues to show supporting the professional growth of teachers continuously and with intention helps with teacher retention and student success rates. Still, beyond both the support this program might provide for new teachers to our school and the quality of instruction in our building, this program gives each of these teachers a voice. Like Glenn. I fully expect Glenn to speak just as loudly into my practice and life as an educator as I hope to speak into his. To get to what I mean, let me first tell you a little bit about Glenn. Continue reading

The Terrifying Nature of Teaching Teachers

Chemistry Teacher with Students in Class

I tasked myself with conducting some professional development for my school’s staff this past Monday just before the students returned. I asked for it. Really. I did. I suppose I was lucky that my admin team allowed me to do it, but the prospect of standing in front of my fellow teachers and try to give them a new perspective, tools, and ideas to play with in their classes and course teams is sort of terrifying. Not terrifying because I’m deathly scared of speaking in front of others–I do it everyday in my classroom–no, terrifying because as any other educator knows, teacher professional development has a stigma around it. Let me explain. Continue reading

Revisiting GIFs: My Attempt at a Critical Shift

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I have no idea why, but I love this GIF. A moving picture says a thousand words, right?!

One particular assignment for my digital literacies course this summer was to make a professional development (PD) session for fellow teachers. We were at one time given permission to complete just a lesson plan, but I’ve created several of those throughout the years. With me taking on a teacher-leadership role this fall, I desperately need practice developing relevant materials for the teachers who I’ll be collaborating with in just a few short weeks! The catch–so to speak–was we were required to generate a critical shift for our participants. If you read my last post, you’ll realize this is no small task. It’s a worthy challenge, and it’s one I felt like I really only met about halfway. (I’ll explain soon.) Maybe I just couldn’t help myself, but I decided the mode of digital literacy I just had to explore in my PD was GIFs! You can click here to go back to when I was first wrestling with the idea of GIFs in the ELA classroom if you’d like. Continue reading