Last week I facilitated my first full day of professional learning with a group of my elementary educators with no presentation slides. Then, I did it again the next day with a group of my secondary educators. I cannot believe it took me this many years to kick that bad habit – not that having a whole group visual is inherently bad, but slides should be used with intention and not as a customary routine. This small change resulted in a complete focus on the learning and the contributions of the educators at the table, not only on the knowledge I brought to the day. This was big.
I appreciate my educators’ grace as they participate in experiences that are a bit different than the usual professional development, especially as they compare PL that I design and lead to that from others within and beyond our district. I am thankful that my educators notice that I pour myself into the design of my professional learning for them (all day, hour-long, after school, blended, virtual, … any format). And, my educators also see that I take calculated risks to continually improve their experience because I believe they are my greatest asset. They directly impact teaching and learning of mathematics every day. They are worth my time and effort and I need them to know that – all 350 of them.
I began the design of this recent PL with these Enduring Understandings:
- The instructional routines utilized in the classroom have a profound effect on the learners’ focus on learning, mathematical thinking habits, and problem solving skills.
- The needs of English Learners and Students with Learning Disabilities in mathematics are best met when given opportunities to learn through (1) high cognitive demand tasks, (2) multimodal experiences, (3) a language-rich environment, (4) building upon their strengths, and (5) a growth mindset.
…and these Essential Questions:
- What factors influence the decision regarding instructional routines to leverage in the classroom?
- What evidence can be found to support the implementation or continuation of current practices? OR How do I know when to abandon or modify a current classroom practice?
Then, I used Numbers (of course) to map out the learning experiences in which I needed my educators to participate so they may be able to demonstrate those understandings and grow in their responses to those essential questions. One of the outcomes of the day included a description of high quality implementation of the instructional routines that would lead to the way I will measure the impact of the PL. Captured using recipe cards, I will compile these into succinct descriptions before I return them to the educators in a few months as a reminder of what they learned – like a letter to their future selves.
Then, the fun began and is best described in 280 characters or less:
Resources I utilized in the design of this professional learning experience:
- Numbers planning document.
- Number Talks reflection document (Elementary Academy). Duplicate this file in order to edit.
- Problem Strings reflection document (Secondary Academy). Duplicate this file in order to edit.
- The Joy of Professional Learning series. If you have any impact on professional learning, you MUST use these books as an inspiration and guide. It will change your life.
- EL Digital Toolbox. A digital resource created by the great Narda Holguin (@PinkySpanish1), Trent Pickrell (@SrPickrell), and Amanda Mask (@UnmaskedEd) to support educators’ design of learning experiences that support listening, speaking, reading, and writing of content. I’m proud of this work and you should check it out. It will change your life.
- Pattern Block Fractions on a Number Line. This is the activity that May Voltz, 5th grade educator at Lee Elementary, created and used in the kick off of the Elementary Academy. It was built in Desmos. You should check it out – and explore more at Teacher.Desmos.com. It will change your life.
My Next Steps:
- Network Academy participants together as Professional Learning Partners (I prefer this name over Accountability Partners) – DONE.
- Network Academy participants together through Twitter by setting up lists and encouraging the continued use of our hashtag (#75019math – that’s our zipcode!) – DONE.
- Set up meeting dates/times to capture the educators’ stories in the form a podcast – DONE (some).
- Communicate best practices for instructional routines experienced in the Academies and described by the participants as a result of their learning – share with educators and campus administrators. Return recipe cards to educators as a reminder of their learning.
- Visit classrooms to celebrate successes.
- Meet with educators individually to capture their stories in the form of a podcast.
- Repeat the Academies in January with two more groups of educators.