Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sharing Our Best Practices

Can you see it? The light that is at the end of the tunnel? The end of the school year is quickly approaching. Out here in Arizona, most of our state's high school seniors will be graduating May 25 or 26.

And it's this time of year, that I think that it's the perfect time to try something new! Hopefully, most of your curriculum has been taught and now you're in review mode for state testing or district benchmarking or maybe you're giving previews for what students can anticipate for the next school year. If you try something new now, it's not going to set you back a week or two if it doesn't work out. But if it does work out...look out! You'll be ready to rock and roll! 

If you're jazzed about this permission that I am granting you, maybe you already have something in mind to try out. But what if you're excited, but not sure what to experiment with? I have a suggestion that will foster conversations with the entire staff at the school. And it works. And you want to know how I know it works? I tried it...at the end of last year. 

This could be done several ways, but the teachers at my school just used a simple Google Document that was shared out to all teaching staff. The document had spaces for teachers to record their name, the teaching strategy or technology tool/app that they wanted to share, and why the strategy or tool was so awesome and worth sharing.This document was shared out a week before a staff meeting with the expectation that all would share at least one idea. 

Once at the staff meeting, teachers could review what had been shared and time was given for teachers to ask each other questions and brainstorm how a great idea that was used in the journalism class could be implemented into a science class, or something like that. 

Why was this 45 minutes time well spent?

  1. Teachers left that staff meeting feeling both inspired because of the new ideas and validated because others found value in what they done.
  2. This time of collaboration fostered communication when it's most tempting for teachers to hide out in their own classroom because there is so much grading, contacting parents, organizing files, etc, to do in the last weeks of school. 
  3. This staff meeting was just-in-time professional development. And it required very little planning and was kept short and sweet. 
This is what worked for us. I hope that it will encourage you to do something similar before the last bell rings.

Offering my BEST to you!

Would you say that you are more or less likely to try something new at the end of the school year? How does your staff share out practical teaching strategies or technology tools with each other?

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