Last week, I facilitated our second ISTE-focused full faculty professional development session of the school year. Having to follow the highly successful Amazing Race-style PD in September made me a bit nervous, but anyone who knows me knows that I love a good challenge, so I went for it. In the planning stages for this one, I started by reviewing the goals; Our schoolwide (based on our WASC action plan), IT/Innovation team, and my own professional goals. Having these visible and fresh in my mind was a great grounding technique. Seems obvious, but sometimes this crucial step can get overlooked.
Aside from the actual goals, I knew I wanted to continue building on the work we did with the student standards back in September by having them think about an immediate application on a small scale- one upcoming lesson. I knew I wanted to provide time and space for some unstructured inquiry and play. I knew that I wanted them to get familiar with some of the amazing equipment and resources that are available in the IT room. I knew I wanted it to be social, fun and low-pressure. I knew I wanted to include some mindfulness and opportunity for reflection. What I didn't know was exactly how I was going to smoosh all of that into an 80-minute chunk of time. But isn't that always the biggest challenge?!
Even though I'm a tech coach, I find that nothing beats a fresh sheet of paper when getting started with a creative project. This one started with breaking the time up into pieces and assigning them to tasks/objectives. Setting the scene by reminding them of the school's innovation goal and the work we'd already done in this area. Moving across the year and showing them where we're headed- a TeachMeet-style share out session at the end of April to exchange ideas and celebrate our accomplishments throughout the year. For those who are unfamiliar with a TeachMeet, I thought it would be helpful (and fun) to show them what it's all about. The first thing that came to mind was all the ways I've been seeing Flipgrid used this year, so I reached out to see if they'd accompany me for an example Micro-Presentation (5 minutes). After that, a short mindfulness break I'd been wanting to share for weeks, and then diving headfirst into being 'Designers' (ISTE Standard for Educators 2.5) of learning experiences for our students. Something like a curriculum-edtech mashup. And this would be where they have time and space to get creative, get collaborative, get inspired.
I have been trying to rein in my perfectionist tendencies at work because it causes me a lot of undue stress. 'Trying' is the key word in that sentence. I've been largely unsuccessful at this, especially over the last year simply because I'm struggling with all the alone time without my husband here. Anyway, this was no exception; I wanted it to be perfect, I wanted people to walk away feeling inspired and excited to try something new. I wanted it to feel immediately applicable to their work. That led me down the rabbit hole of creating and curating a bunch of resources for those who might need a little extra scaffolding, examples and explicit connection to the subject/grade level they teach. This is the kind of work I love but the designer in me also wants it to be pretty and accessible. And that, that's where the time goes. Here are the cards I made to go with all of the equipment and apps on offer for the session:
When the day finally arrived, I was buzzing around the office printing and prepping, charging robots, updating iPads, testing QR codes, installing new firmware updates, collecting resources, getting everything ready, and most certainly making my office mates anxious with all my energy. The time came for me to take the mic and get the show started. And that's when it all just came together, like it does. I wish I could remember that realization when I find myself getting spun up in the anxiousness of preparing for these events. Maybe next time 😬
I wish I would have captured more of the session in photos and video, but I was too caught up the conversation and flow of ideas to even think of it. It was so good. All of it. The TeachMeet was upbeat with my boss setting a timer on his phone and tons of laughter when we went slightly over. The mindfulness activity (more on that in a separate post) was just what everyone needed, not just me. And the collaborative play time was just downright fun. All that stress and hard work- totally worth it. I'm so very excited for the follow up with teachers and PLC teams over the next week when I check in to see how their lessons went after this session.
And the best part- It ticked nearly all the boxes above. Check this out!
So what's next?
I suppose I will look for opportunities to do more of what seems to be working and less of what doesn't. While most of the feedback was positive, I recognize that there's always more I can learn and do, so that's what's next. What more can I be doing to support the specialist teachers and help make the units more transdisciplinary? How can I help teachers move toward their PLC goals through the use of technology and innovation? What impact is my work having on the students we serve and how do I know? Which teachers do I think are ready for a formal coaching cycle and which are finding their flow? How does this session inform my work? These are the questions I'm reflecting on and considering as I strive to answer, "What's Next?"