In every PD session I have led in the last year, I always talk about the idea that we need to be prepared for students to know more about somethings than we do. I talk about the fact that it may be a scary thought for some, but for me...it's exciting. I talk about the excitement and empowerment when students can own their own learning and share it with us. I also talk about the idea that I learn from others every time I am working in a classroom or presenting PD. Last week was no different...but let me back up.
I have been presenting in professional development sessions for about four years now (something I NEVER saw myself doing). My first three years look quite different than this last year. When I first began, my wheelhouse was "engagement strategies". I focused on how to get students involved and excited in their learning. We would practice different hooks, games, tricks. I don't even remember if I ever discussed the reason behind these things, maybe a sentence or two?
This last year, I had somehow fallen into presenting mostly on technology integration and lesson design. This is kind of funny, because tech is definitely not my background. In fact, back when I was in the classroom, we had 3 desk tops and my one ipad. I utilized them to the best of my ability, but boy...hindsight. I am quick to tell participants that I am not a "techie", but I am not afraid to take risks, push buttons and try things. I encourage them to do the same. I also now start every session with this picture...and pose the question: "Why do we need to change the way we do education?". I pose the question to them and then we discuss...I make sure to infuse my BIG FIVE into the discussion (more on that later).
Anyone that presents on "tech" goes into their session with the hopes that what comes across is: pedagogy over tech. But what seems to happen is just the opposite. People gravitate towards tools, apps, sites...why not, they are cool. But what will you do with these resources? How will you use them to help students move forward in their learning? What I learned was, all I have to do is ask.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at my first CUE Rockstar Teacher Camp (#rOxnard): At the end of day two, participants chose a "hero group" led by one of the presenters. The purpose of these groups was to allow time and space for participants to reflect on their journey over the last two days (based around Joseph Cambell's: Hero's Journey). I created a simple slide template with three slides for them to reflect on: People, Resources and Pedagogy. How have/will each of these things help them to transform as an educator. They then presented these slides and discussed in small groups. I just sat in and listened. It was cool to see my name in all of their slides under "people", but what gave me goosebumps was what I saw and heard during the Pedagogy slides!
I often don't know what I'm saying, when I am in front of a group. It's like I go into a trance. I try not to spend much time talking, but put the focus on the participants doing something. I have realized that I apparently DO get on my soap box during these sessions (but only for a bit). The overarching theme in EVERYONE's slide wrapped around: student centered classroom, student empowerment, differentiation, risk taking and "stickiness". These are the BIG FIVE that I am passionate about! These ARE the things that I try to demonstrate in my sessions. These are the things that will create change, it's not about the tech. *Now I am NOT claiming that I was the only voice that led them to these realizations, they met a plethora of amazing presenters over these two days.*
When I listened to them talk, I could be seen clapping, high 5ing, cheering and who knows what else...because I was so excited. I heard "I need to drop my ego and try things.", "I need to let students drive the lessons", "I need to design my lessons for "stickiness", "I need to meet students where they are.", "I won't break my students or the internet, I just need to try.", "We won't have classroom management problems if we have students engaged and empowered in their learning." "I need to give students choice because they are all different" -Music to my ears AND heart!!!
So the messages did shine through! It wasn't about the tech...the transformation wasn't about the tech. It was about a mind shift. But I would have never known (and most likely, neither would they) had there not been that time to reflect, discuss and share. I talk a lot about reflection, but just realized I never give people time in my sessions to do that! I have had them do things like create a comic to show their learning, but I never focused them on a shift pedagogy...just "What have you learned? What would you like to learn more about? What are your steps moving forward?" AHA! I learned that just a small shift in a wording can make all the difference! I guess we don't know, if we don't ask. We need to be intentional with our reflections if we want to grow. I always say "We need to KNOW the people in which we serve." But I missed the boat. But now I know better, and I will DO better.
I thank all of my participants for sharing their journeys with me and helping me realize an important missing piece of mine! I thank my friend, Jon Corippo, for adding this important element to the CUE Rockstar Teacher Camps.
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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