As I reflect on the two hour session I attended this past Friday, I'm stuck on the first 3 minutes.
I had the pleasure of sitting in on a professional learning session with teachers from St. Augustine Preparatory Academy (Milwaukee, WI) led by colleagues Sara Wilkie and Dale Truding of BalanceEdTech. What was so empowering about this session? It wasn't just that teachers had authentic opportunities to converse with each other about the ways students learn, though they certainly did that. It wasn't just because there was time to play with Seesaw, a technology tool that has the potential to document reflection and thinking processes, which also happened. And it wasn't even because of the embedded opportunities for self-reflection on instructional practice and ways to apply the morning's learning in the next day's class, which we also did. All of which is impressive. However, it's the first 3 minutes in which Dale, Sara, and St. Augustine Prep's Elementary School Principal, Nathan Carlberg, opened the session that has stayed with me the most. I paraphrased their words in my notes from the morning as follows:
Nathan - The morning is not just about learning about a tool, but also a framework-mindset for how we empower students - this tool drives us towards a mindset.
Dale - Our goal is to empower staff to empower the students.
Sara - Kids are at the center; when struggling with a decision, always take it back to the kids to lead you.
Nathan, Dale and Sara set the stage for the teachers to be leaders in their learning and the learning of their students. These words, partnered with the subsequent session, encouraged teachers to take in knowledge and try it out; to reflect, play, tinker; roll with it and fail with it; learn as you go and adjust; know when to push on and when to ask for help; and, recognize all the places that they, as teacher-leaders and teacher-learners, can seek and find support -- all while keeping in mind how this learning will subsequently impact student learning. Nathan, Dale, and Sara started the morning by telling these teachers, "This is all about the kids and you can do this important work because we are in it together and will give you the tools and support you need." Wow. Now that's empowering.
I'm an elementary school teacher turned professional learning/edtech coach, avid reader, and lifelong learner. For 2018, I've set the goal to create a 6 word memoir for each week to find my voice, reflect on my own professional learning, and set goals for how my learning will impact my practice.
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