First, an apology. I am only 4 months and one day late for my last post ... skip to present day.
I was fortunate to spend the
last two days with some incredibly innovative individuals at the Microsoft
Innovative Teachers Conference held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. As I said in
my morning tweet, “My brain still hurts
in a good way!” Each of the invited attendees present at the conference is
doing incredibly innovative work with their students and integrating/infusing
technology into the learning culture of their classroom. Yesterday I was very fortunate to I sit in a
group with Kathy Cassidy, Clarence Fisher, Darren Kuropatwa, Chris Harbeck, and Andy McKiel as we discussed the concept of what innovation would look like in our schools.
As we brainstormed ideas, one key aspect that we discussed was time for staff collaboration and reflection. Being able to share, problem-solve,deconstruct and reconstruct ideas is something staff members long for but so seldom have opportunity to do. From these opportunities can come a common language, mutual understanding, shared visions and goals for a school.
We also felt there needed to be more celebration of what our students accomplish. As a former elementary school teacher and principal, I know the importance of the celebration of our students' accomplishments and how they shine as a result. From this idea, sprang a thought that we need to also celebrate what our staff is doing. More often than not, the only person who knows what is going on in every teacher's classroom besides the teacher themselves is the administrator. So here's my idea. Let's celebrate our staff's work by having each teacher regardless of subject area create a science fair like poster presentation of what they think is one of their best lessons taught. Teacher's would include lesson topic, curricular objectives, outline, sample materials, assessment samples, etc. Anything that would highlight the success that this particular approach created for their students in the classroom. Teacher's have all this stuff done anyways so it should be a matter of just pulling it together. The benefit comes from the sharing at a team/staff meeting or school based professional development day. This is where the collective wisdom of the participants can shine. This is where sharing, questioning and even a bit of walking in another colleagues shoes can take place. This where teachers who habitually think they don't have anything to share can get affirmation about their practice. Every teacher has a gem of a lesson they could share and shine.
A follow-up session might feature how teachers are integrating/infusing technology into their classroom practice. Teachers could work individually or in teams to highlight their practice. If teachers are late adopters of technology, this would be an opportunity for mentors in the school to assist them. I think opportunities such as this would highlight the marvelous work our teachers are doing and give opportunity for them share and learn from each other at the same time. The potential impact on teacher practice could be significant.
I'll draw the analogy of an old-fashioned barn-raising where everyone pitched in to achieve a common goal. Working together to raise our individual and group's innovative practice can profoundly enhance the one thing we're in this business for in the first place - the learning of our students.
Image: Raising Wall 3 http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1220/534843169_bb299aa4ea.jpg?v=0