I have participated just a few times in Digital Learning Sunday with Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. Today, Margaret has called those who participated in the #TheEdCollabGathering to share our reflections.
My school district has been grappling with professional development. They are trying to find the best ways to engage teachers in topics we find relevant to our teaching. This is not an easy task.
I have always believed that we learn best from each other. Teachers are busy, and we do not always have the time to share and collaborate with each other. Teachers need the time to share ideas and what works in our own classrooms. We need the time to learn from each other.
And that is exactly what I did on Saturday. But not with the teachers from my own district. It was with teachers from all over the country.
Saturday was a beautiful, yet very windy day, here in southern Indiana, but I spent the day glued to my computer and iPad, immersed in the PD provided by Christopher Lehman and the The Educator Collaborative. I have tried to summarize my learning to keep this blog post concise, but this was not easy because the learning was amazing.
Session #4 Let Them Read: Independent Reading at the Secondary Level by Heather Rocco and Chatham teachers The teachers in this English department made it a goal to place independent reading as a priority. They shared how independent reading looks in their classroom through the why, the structure, the assessment and the community building. My biggest take-away from this session is the importance of the whole department making independent reading a priority. Yes, I will always place reading high in my classroom, but it is to no avail if teachers in the following years do not support it.
Session #7 - Crafting Details: Teaching Students to Elaborate and Add Details with Roz Linder. Roz has a new book out, The Big Book of Details, which teaches how to be specific when we tell students to "add more details." She showed several craft moves such as "Right in the Middle" where students add details as appositive phrases. I will be ordering this book very soon. My biggest take-away is that we need to use explicit strategies when teaching students how to add details.
Session #12 - Choice as the Keystone in Secondary English Classes with Amy Rasmussen and Shana Karnes. I want to teach like these two teachers - a true workshop classroom. This session felt like a conversation I would have with Amy and Shana after school in my classroom about choice, classroom libraries, and conferences with students. My biggest take-away from this session is that compliance is not always engagement. Choice must be a part of the culture in my classroom, and it is not too late in the school year to starting adding elements of choice.
Session #14 - with Two Writing Teachers I lingered a little in this session, but I did not stay because it tugged at my elementary heart, and I am now a middle school teacher. The needs of middle school writers are different, yet I still think I can create a middle school conferring toolbox.
Closing Session - The Right Tool for the Job with Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts Kate and Maggie's new book is DIY Literacy which is all about using tools to help students. My biggest take-away from this session is the demonstration notebook, and I immediately put a sketchbook on my Walmart list. I see so many areas where this notebook can not only help me, but also help my students. Kate and Maggie have started a new video series about these tools, and their first one features the demonstration notebooks.
At the beginning of their session, Kate said, "This day is a testament to our profession." What other profession has over 10,000 people spending the day together to become better at what they do and to learn from each other?
Today was PD at its best, and today makes me proud to be a teacher.