Session 1: Get your Leadership Freak On
The session started out with a conversation that I have been a part of many times... Educators (teachers, admin, etc) want to make change, but they don't feel they have the freedom to do so! Many suggestions were offered, but here are a few key take-aways from this conversation:
- Never throw your direct supervisor under any sort of bus when trying to express interest in change. We discussed that putting blame on principals or district admin for not making change is not a way to have a positive conversation. Instead, try discussion some ideas that you're interested in.
- Start small, not everyone has to jump on board at once. As practices are proven to be successful, others will jump on board.
- Have a serious conversation about WHY people are in education. What type of environment should students experience? What do experiences should students walk away from? What is BEST for students? This type of conversation will probably take place over a matter of months, but if a team establishes a set of beliefs - they will always be able to come back and explain why they choose certain practices. If some practices can't be explained...it is probably time to move on to something new!
We also discussed different team building ideas. Here are a couple of my favorite ideas that were thrown out:
- Pumpkin Bowling! Pumpkin bowling is EXACTLY what it sounds like! This school actually bowled in their halls with pumpkins. Evidently at least one pumpkin exploded and made a mess...but mission accomplished - the staff bonded!
- Marshmallow Challenge. Here is the website that explains the marshmallow challenge. It is easy to set up and lots of fun! You can also check out a TED talk about the challenge here.
- Consider changing the space where teachers participate in PD. When they experience alternative seating arrangements and types of furniture, they can get a feel for how it works!
- Talk with your district warehouse to see what furniture you can get your hands on to repurpose! Old bookshelves can make great reading nooks with a little bit of elbow grease and some pillows!
- Flexible seating should contribute to the learning environment...not distract from it!
Session 2: Reinforcing Digital Citizenship k-12
In my opinion, teaching the skills associated with Digital Citizenship is important, but I wonder, at what point in time will we stop separating Digital Citizenship from regular Citizenship? Why are there a separate set of expectations for a person's digital presence from their real-life presence? Obviously there are some key skills that only relate to an online presence, but I wish we could move forward to a point where we realize that these all need to be taught together.
With that being said, here are a few take-away ideas from this conversation:
- Consider replacing Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) with Responsible Use Policies (RUPs). The RUP could align with a matrix of general student behavior expectations and would be written in kid-friendly language.
- It is important that teachers model proper digital etiquette naturally in the classroom.
- After initial lessons at the beginning of the year, consider creating Digital Norms that students will follow. Create a system of trust where students feel comfortable reporting when they may have missed a norm by ending up on a website or app they shouldn't have been on. Building trust this way makes it easier down the road when tough conversations need to take place.
- STOP blaming tech for student behaviors! The iPad didn't magically take a student to a game instead of an article they should be reading! Teach the students behavior, don't let the tech be a scapegoat.
- Consider having students create online digital profiles early on in elementary grades. This way we teach them what they SHOULD put online instead of only focusing on what they need to keep off the web!
SESSION 3: STREETCAR TOUR
I got to ride the KC Streetcar for the first time today and it was awesome!
For the third session, we rode the streetcar to River Market for lunch. I know this sounds like it has nothing to do with education, but it did - PROMISE!
As we rode the streetcar up and down the track, we discussed ways to connect students with the city we live in! What resources are available and what places could we bring students to? Check out this collaborative map we created during this session.