I am going back to school tomorrow after the winter break and it looks like ideas inspired by the conference will be implemented. We had an Instructional Committee meeting over the break. 5 teachers and the principal attended. All teachers were invited and we get paid but I guess it was difficult to come in during the break. One of the teachers said afterward that she thought it was amazing that teachers (with the principal) were actually developing our professional development together.
One thing that stayed with me from the conference was when Alesha Daughtry said that sometimes people don't know they can just discuss issues and change direction. Sometimes teachers just expect to hear "no" or not to be heard at all so they just vent to each other instead of trying to institute change or to come to some kind of compromise.
We went over what we thought were the three big areas for PD to always revolve around and these were: building community among the teachers and staff, helping all students succeed, developing curriculum specific to our school's vision. "Helping all students succeed" sounds like the task of any school but we need to look specifically at the students in our school who are not successful and maybe haven't been for many years. Our students go into large urban high schools with probably some of the highest rates of drop out in the country.
So we discussed new models for remediation, using technology, some ideas from Hole in the Wall were discussed (groups of four using an ipad), using ideas from School of One
(individualized remediation that used different modalities).
We are going to have a tech advisor from the district come in and do a workshop with all the teachers on using iPADS. We are using a model for the workshops that are project based and have very little lecture. Not everyone is comfortable with this but it is supposed to be at the core of our school endeavor (collaborative, project based instruction that offers and opportunity to both learn and show understanding using different modalities) so we need to do it anyway.
We divided our professional development into sections:
1 - all reading the same book together ( a book about effective workplaces and how to talk to each other) and we will set aside some PD every week to discuss the book.
2. Learning new technology together (in groups of 4) with some activity (we thought we would combine VoiceThread with the bookclub for the first tech pd).
3. Returning always to our school's vision and linking this to ways to help all students achieve success (we haven't yet developed this plan - this will be a work in progress but included interdisciplinary projects).
I'm uploading some of the picture I took during the conference that were topic the labs worked on because I think they are relevant to our professional development.