Summer "Professional Development"- 8/9/2020

I started working on Blogging Bingo on June 28, 2020 with my first entry- Self Care where I described how I had completed a milestone- completing Couch to 5K! My next entry was published on July 11, 2020 and shares some Summer Learning Opportunities for Teachers. My 7/14/2020 post described my feelings about staying safe in school. My 7/24/2020 post shared ways to amplify thinking routines with technology tools. All of the posts were related to my commitment this year to #oneword2020 CHALLENGE myself to take risks.

Today's blog post continues on that vein. One of my #oneword2020 goals is to CHALLENGE myself to present more. This past week, we began Sangster's Summer Learning Opportunities at my school. These optional learning activities were offered two times a day this past week, eight sessions total and they were truly amazing.

The idea for Summer Learning Opportunities started as a response to our End of the Year Distance Learning Survey for teachers at my school. As the assistant principal and I reviewed the data shared, a few primary needs stood out.

  • Teachers wanted to learn ways to make synchronous learning more engaging and effective.

  • Teachers wanted to learn more about tools they were already familiar with.

  • Teachers wanted to learn more about using Pear Deck.

  • Teachers wanted to learn ways to build relationships in virtual classrooms.

In response to these needs, this schedule was born. It provided staff with differentiated opportunities to learn about tools that they were familiar with such as Google Classroom, Google Slides and Blackboard Collaborate Ultra) while also providing opportunities to learn tools that promote community and relationship building.

WOW! I am so proud to be a Falcon!

This past week, I was honored to host eight summer learning opportunities in just four days for my staff. If one word could describe how I felt about this week, it would be WOW! I work with the most dedicated educators I have ever met. Each of my eight sessions had between 15-25 participants! Many of my colleagues attended many sessions and one dedicated colleague even attended them ALL! Teacher contracts don't even begin until this coming Friday, August 14th, but these colleagues were ready to learn and add to their virtual learning toolbox on their own time.

The week started with more introductory sessions. The first session was sharing basics on Google Classroom to start. If you know me, you know how passionate I am about our youngest learners using Google Classroom. I was so excited to see so many primary teachers, instructional assistants and special educators join. I loved showing them the power of this amazing tool! In the afternoon of the first day, we reviewed the basics of our synchronous learning system, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. Once again, I was thrilled to see so many of my colleagues- so eager to learn this tool to connect with their students.

As the week continued, the numbers of staff attending continued to grow. We explored using Pear Deck and using Google Slides together. I loved watching as my colleagues discovered all of the super powers these tools had. We discussed ways to increase student to student engagement through tools like Flipgrid, interactive slides and Padlet. It was so exciting to see so many people not only ready to learn, but dedicated to being the best that they could be.

This made me want to be the best that I could be. Sessions that I had created in the spring were a great starting point, but if I want to help my colleagues increase their student to student interactions, I needed to take some risks and model these interactions with them. It was awesome! We used breakout rooms and partnered them up with collaborative slide decks, Padlets and more. We used Flipgrid to build synchronous connections. They became Pear Deck proficient, adapt at using Slides in new ways and I could not be prouder of them.

Week 2 starts tomorrow....

As Week 1 concluded with 32 participants over the course of four days, my assistant principal and I got started on the upcoming week. Two teachers had volunteered to host some of these sessions and we decided to encourage teachers to attend Pear Fair, a free PD event hosted by Pear Deck. We also decided to add sessions on Padlet, Wixie and Hyperdocs. Once again, I had presentations from last year on all of these, but I pushed myself to see how I could model the interactivity that teachers had asked about in their end of the year surveys.

I can't wait to see how this week turns out. Yes, I am exhausted and the last few weeks have been overwhelming, but when I look at the big picture, I am so proud to be part of my school's learning community and the impact of my position every day. Every day, I help others leverage technology to amplify student learning. In a virtual learning environment, it is no longer just about learning the technology, but what opportunities the technology provides us to connect and engage our students.