Day 10 (of 183) district pro-d: all hands on deck
For the first time in my time in my current district, we had an “all-together” professional development day. A group of speakers talking about inquiry, first peoples learning, and inclusion – as connected to the “new” BC curriculum: https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca and how that will impact us (as we voluntarily practice K-9 curriculum this year and start to explore 10-12 world). We also had some ‘breakout’ sessions following the talking-time around an Edcamp model – 8 topics introduced by the participants (scary for some to lose control over the afternoon, but when you trust the process – good things happen) along with some “standards” around Kindergarten Teachers, Music Teachers and the new FreshGrade pilot project spreading around!
Our speakers were awesome. @LeytonSchnell kicked things off by talking about inquiry projects – a “heavily supported” methodology our district is promoting. Leyton did a great job emphasizing a key component: think big, start small. Especially when starting an inquiry – it is a time to explore; to play and get dirty; to model life-long learning – competencies all connected to the new BC curriculum – it’s not about what you know, it’s about what you do with what you know!
@tweetsomemoore took us to “task” around what inclusion actually means. And I LOVED her analogy when bringing up the key question around “learning for ALL” – what about ‘the others’ in the classroom (who are being distracted/ignored/etc) – her analogy was what she learned about professional bowlers – if you aim for the centre pin….that’s what you’ll hit. If you want a strike, you actually need to start on one side of the lane (close to the gutter….hmmm maybe a hidden analogy there??) and aim for the far pin (the 7-10, of which the famous split that is so hard to hit is connected to). With the right spin and technique, the ball will roll over and get those hard to hit pins (and every other one that don’t necessarily need as much focus). In other words – the kids that will make grade level whether you are in the room or not are fine. When you aim for those ‘hard to connect kids’ then every learner benefits and you’ll score a Strike!
Our afternoon edcamp was kicked off perfectly by the hard work of @robcadden – who has helped identify this strategy as an effective (and exciting) method for ongoing professional development. I was happy to help him out, until my spidey-sense tingled and I zipped over to the session on eportfolios being run by my friends at @freshgrade. (I have a ‘fresh’ blog on @freshgrade and eportfolios coming soon). My school is starting year 3 of using eporfolios in lieu of report cards. Has it been easy-peasy? No – but not because of the technology; but because formative ongoing assessment can be exhausting! In many cases handing out a “B” can be a lot easier (and a lot less informative). But the shift in assessment is definitely a push in the right direction as we need to do an ever-improving job of communicating student learning – not just reporting on task completion.
I hope that many are feeling a tad – scared. But not in a bad way – hopefully in a “what’s gonna happen next” way! Leyton made it very clear – classroom teachers are “in the field” and need to share their works & explorations & collaborations. Shelley makes it clear that “we don’t hear people say: ‘we value honesty but we just can’t afford it this year'” – we need to reach all learners. Edcamping is all about powerful conversations and Freshgrade helps show that the tools we have today ain’t like any we had in the past.
I hope we are all feeling scared in the way we approach a thrill ride – a little scary wondering what the next corner will look like, but at the end of the day we know we will survive. And likely want to get back on the ride and go again!