This past week was very busy for our school and for me. In addition to the work we’re doing within our school to change teaching and learning, we are making efforts to be open and share our journey with others who are ready to start the work or who wonder if they are ready to start the work. Balancing this with the need to help our staff grow is a challenge and I felt that this week. As we’ve visited and video chatted with other districts doing this work, this challenge was something they shared, but this week was the first I felt the struggle first hand.
We started the week on Monday with conference style PD for our staff. This was what our district calls a “school planning” day, meaning that 50% of the day is school directed for professional learning and 50% is teacher directed time. We planned a whole group kickoff in the morning and two sessions for teachers. They had 12 choices each session and chose two that met their needs for their classroom and students.
On Thursday, I spent the afternoon with our pyramid tech coaches (technically our role is SBTS – School Based Tech Specialists – but the tech coach title is more universally known. I use them interchangeably), reflecting on the work we’re doing. We were able to share with each other – both challenges and great successes. We learned about a few new tools to share with our teachers and we set some goals to continue our own learning. We’ve been reading Blended Learning in Grades 4-12: Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create Student Centered Classrooms and engaged in some book discussion as well.
Later in the week we had the chance to share the work we’re doing in a couple of ways. Friday morning we hosted a group from our district’s Joint Technology Committee. This group works on projects that cross a variety of departments in our district. The members of these groups are doing a lot of the “behind the scenes” work that is happening to support these large initiatives (like #FCPSon) and wanted to connect and see what this work looks like in our schools. We answered questions and visited classrooms around the school, checking out learning spaces and seeing what teachers and students were engaged in during our day. What a wonderful visit sharing the hard work we’ve been doing this year!
Our students were excited to share what they think about our new normal this year. They talked with these adults from central office in nearly every classroom and hallway we stopped to visit. I continue to be impressed with their maturity and eloquence as they explain and show what has changed, what they’re learning and how they feel about it.
After this visit, several tech coaches from our pyramid visited teams from two other pyramids in our county. We were there to share the story of our journey and to answer questions.
It’s been wonderful to share what we are learning. Often the questions that are raised cause us to reflect and plan for even better work for our teachers and students. I’m committed to sharing our work, but also know I need to maintain a balance and be sure I’m around for the staff and students in our school. I set my one word for 2016 as Balance…and continue to remind myself to aim for better balance all around.