My district has just begun the first steps in an exciting and monumental initiative. In the Fall, 14,000 Chromebooks will be given out for student use in classrooms. This is not a 1:1 rollout, but a cart model. A few months ago, teachers signed up to receive a Chromebook cart filled with enough devices for their class. We had over 300 teachers sign up within the first half hour and we had to cut it off at 460 total because of PD day restraints. For a teacher to receive their cart in the Fall, they have to complete a 2 day (10 hour) training at our Digital Educator Institute (DEI). This is being run by myself and my three fantastic TOSA counterparts. Let’s do the math...yeah, that is a lot of people for 4 people to train! We have worked extremely hard to create a Professional Development that does not focus on the device, does not focus on a program, but rather pedagogy and the learning. We wanted to stress the idea of a student centered classroom...this may rock some people’s world. It was a huge undertaking and as people started trickling in on Day 1, at 0’ dark 30 we strapped in, held on tight, and jumped in! The days were filled with a lot of collaborating, a lot of learning and a lot of smiles!
This is not a post to focus on myself nor my team. Not even on the content of the DEI. This is a post to focus on the amazing phenomena that I witnessed over the last 4 days (2 rounds). But here is a little background...there was no criteria or prerequisites for teachers joining us in the DEI. We know that we have teachers all over the spectrum in terms of basic Google and tech skills. We were not able to create groups based on Google/Tech level, nor grade/subject/school. This turned out to be a good thing! Each day of the DEI was made up of 4 sessions, participants went to 2 sessions per day. Since we were all presenting at the same time, I can not speak to my colleagues’ experiences, only my own. I have heard all of the positive feedback about all the sessions and I have complete confidence in saying that I know my colleagues rocked it!
In my session, we were looking at the content of Digital Portfolios through a fantastic collaborative activity called Iron Chef Slides created by @jcorippo. One of the beautiful things about this activity is it forces the classroom to become student centered. They were the ones doing the work, they were the ones doing the learning. So much so, that I had someone stand in the room when I ran to the bathroom and no one noticed! They were so engaged! I was not needed at the front of the room, so as the participants dug in and got messy with it; I was able to have “face time” with groups. I was also freed up to do a lot of observation. What I witnessed was magical. I had many goose bump and happy tear moments!
My observations from the sidelines:
*There was one particular teacher who was being particularly hard on herself. She was close to tears as she was feeling too pressured and not up to speed. I went over and gave her a big hug and said “You can do this, this is not built to cause you anxiety, it is for learning. Tell me what is frustrating you.” I worked with her for maybe only 2 minutes and let her loose. At the very end of the session, she called me over and said “I just have to show you what I have done, I’m so proud of myself.” and she showed me the beautiful slide she created. That is when I got the goose bumps and the tears welled up. I gave her a big hug and a high five and her team, the whole group and I celebrated her.
4) Excitement and inspiration: I don’t know if I mentioned that this started on the first day of summer! These dedicated teachers were there on the first week of summer break. You wouldn’t have known it as the energy throughout the whole 4 days was so positive and encouraging. Teachers were already thinking about how to
incorporate their new learning into next year. One of the sessions is about PLN and part of it was getting people on Twitter. It has been fantastic seeing how people are
connecting and sharing like never before. They are inspired by the learning, and they are
inspired by each other.
*One particular participant: @MelissaE5407 has taken the reins and is off and running. She took to Twitter like a fish to water and is so excited with all she is learning. She wrote her first blog, after day 2 and is ready to jump into our Twitter chat this week. Check out her journey here: It's All About the Learning
Another wonderful colleague: @Ms_Woz wrote a blog post about the training as well: DEI Simi.
I am a big proponent of sharing your learning, sharing your journey, and taking risks. I am so pleased and excited with the observations I have made over the last 4 days. This is a huge organizational change, and it could have gone either way. I think the fact that the teachers are owning their learning, taking risks and being forward thinking, is what is going to continue to make this initiative a success. Kudos to our wonderful teachers!!!
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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