Well maybe this isn't exactly what our staff looked like today, but I work with an amazing group of educators! I am so very proud to be part of this special bunch of sometimes crazy, innovative educators. The videos below are from the last two homecoming events that I think are spectacular examples of what a fun group I get to work with.
As excited as I am to show off the work of my colleagues in these great videos, I would be misrepresenting their overall efforts to grow and learn as educators. Hang in there I will get to the part where I share our amazing Professional Development today.
I want to point out that if you watch any of the videos above, there is someone missing. You guessed it, your's truly is absent. I struggle with being out there in public. So when I was approached early in the school year by a member of the Professional Development Committee, I was honored and horrified at the same time. I don't know if it was the amazing sales pitch, or if it was the multiple times I had seen people say "sharing is caring," on Twitter, but I agreed to it. Even though I was feeling overwhelmed, I thought it would be cool to talk about what an amazing resource Twitter has been for me in building collaboration.
Here is the part where I should tell you all of the amazing things that have been going on in my world and all of the lessons I have learned and applied to my teaching and reaped the rewards. This however isn't a fairy tale. Don't get me wrong, I have had an amazing first few weeks in the classroom. My students participated in a 9/11 blog project connecting students and teachers from across the nation remembering what happened over a decade ago. Please check it out here - 9/11 blogspot. I also teach in a district that just opened up our classes to BYOD and this has allowed me to try new things. I created a lesson that I have shared my fishbowl lesson earlier on this site. I am also looking forward to the end of this week where my students will be presenting to members of our school board. Again this lesson is discussed in my last post. Okay, so I did have some great things going on in the first few weeks, however this happened while dealing with the following.
The year began like most, the excitement to be back, the anxiety of new classes, and getting everything ready for the first day. This year was unique for me, I came in with a renewed passion for teaching. However when I got back to school, that excitement was put in the ring with Mike Tyson in his prime. Yes I am old enough to have seen Tyson fight prior to his ear biting days, or his staring role in the Hangover trilogy. He was a boxer, it is sort of like students realizing that George Foreman was a boxer too, and not just a guy hawking grills. Sorry for the tangent. Anyway, my passion was smashed with the avalanche of new expectations. The RtI, SLO, My Learning Plan, collection of data, and so many others that I have lost track.
I do not intend this to seem like a plea for pity, but rather more of the realizations that led me to be determined to be part of the PD day this year. The epiphany for me is that the first few weeks. I went from being so enthusiastic to so frustrated so quickly was a learning experience. I didn't know how I would get it all done. More than that, I didn't know how I would do everything to the level of expectation I have for myself. This includes building relationships with my family. I went back to feeling isolated and alone. I felt like I was facing these new challenges and demands by myself on an island. This is when I realized that if I felt this way, so did others. The difference for me is that I have begun to develop an incredible PLN on Twitter. I reached out for help, and was showered with so much encouragement and assistance to get me through.
You have endured another one of my rambling posts, hopefully the wrap up is worthy of your time and patience. My solution to having to be the center attraction was to create an environment much like my classroom. I set it up for teachers to actively participate and I get to guide them through the process.
Here is what my session looked like:
1. Set up an edcamp style collaboration session. In the morning teachers signed up for a topic they wanted to learn more about. During my allotted time I established a thirty minute session where teachers collaborated on their chosen topic. I was able to move around to groups and listen in on their amazing ideas. I work with some amazing educators.
2. My presentation - This was the stressful part of the day, but it allowed me to introduce my experience and guide us to the possibilities that lay ahead. I created a brief prezi to illustrate some of the issues that I mentioned earlier. My point of all of this is to demonstrate the struggles and challenges that we face, and that we must work together to survive. This set the stage for the final part of the day's presentation. Notice this part was pretty short, and I survived it!
3- Twitter chat. Teachers were asked to set up a twitter account prior to the day's presentations so we could engage in a twitter chat. I set up a #lcpln for teachers to experience a demonstration of what a chat looks like. I was hoping they would see how they can connect and share information in a fast paced manner and build their PLN.
The end of the day reflection confirms for me, the value of this type of professional development for real growth in educational practices. As educators we face tremendous obstacles, challenges, detours, call it what you will, there are things that blockade our goal of immersion in the classroom. Our PD Committee has an opportunity and a vision to allow for more freedom of choice, and self directed professional development. My hope is that today, teachers learned a valuable resource to helping them overcome the hurdles placed in their path, and tools to grow and learn in their practices.
Here is a list of educational Twitter Chats to help develop professional development.