This year, I embark on a new journey, as Director of Technology and Instruction at Salesianum School. In this role, I function as part of a team comprised of the Principal, Dean of Academic Affairs, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and myself. One of our team’s goals this year is to model best practices in teaching and learning in the digital age, in part by flipping our professional development. Our hope is that teachers will not only enjoy this professional learning model more than its traditional counterpart, but also engage in meaningful conversations throughout the year, creating a culture of collegial collaboration.
For the first attempt-our September faculty meeting-the team decided to use Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, “How to Escape Education’s Death Valley.” Admittedly, the week prior, the team kicked around many “intro” videos that would best frame what we want the faculty to take away, but we felt that Robinson’s TED Talk best challenged educators to think differently about their practice.
As we sent the video to our faculty, we provided them three discussion questions to frame the video. The questions were:
- Does the culture of our school foster a spirit of curiosity, individuality, and creativity in our students? What can we do, in the classroom and at a school-wide level, to further encourage growth?
- In what ways does our school culture promote and value the teaching profession? What are our successes in creating a positive teaching environment, and in what ways do we need to grow?
- How can leadership more effectively promote a climate of possibility throughout the entire school community?
We structured the faculty meetings as conversations, around a conference room table, taking place during the teacher’s open period. Each group of roughly twelve teachers spent the 45-minute period thinking critically about our practice, both from a classroom level and from a school level. Throughout each of the six meetings, we heard from close to 60 of the 70+ teachers who attended, about five times the amount of people that would typically speak in a traditional faculty meeting.
Toward the tail end of each session, I presented the results of an edtech survey sent out in August, which provided me feedback into their beliefs and needs regarding edtech professional development. Through this venue, teachers felt comfortable offering me feedback, asking questions, and reaffirming the structure of edtech PD this year.
Undoubtedly, through the act of flipping our professional development, we were able to engage teachers in meaningful conversations.