I had the opportunity to listen to Tim Monds from Parkland School Division and Chris Smeaton from Holy Spirit Catholic School Division talk to a group of teachers at EdCampPSD70. They were talking about how important it is to get out and connect with teachers. My favourite line was that a B.Ed. wasn’t enough anymore as teacher. You cannot live in a bubble inside the 4 walls of your classroom. You need to get our and see other students, talk to other teachers, experience other environments. The most powerful thing you can do is connect with another teacher and share best practices. We need to become a learner ourselves and be willing to make ourselves vulnerable is what I took from both of their talks. I am always still learning as a fairly new teacher but it was a good reminder that you really need to force yourself get out and look for opportunities to learn something new.
This week #WeirdEd’s topic was Planning. I was not excited about that as I was concerned I’d feel out of place because I am not a planner. I am all about conversations.
This was a big thing for me because I never feel like I am doing enough planning. I know where I want to go and how I will get there but my day plans are usually left to the day before and sometimes change on the way to school. I often dictate notes to my phone.
The big theme that I saw today was that a lot of the teachers that I look up to are on the same page as me. The truth is that you have to be flexible with your plans because students come to class each day as new people. The quote from Alice in Wonderland comes to mind here.
“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
―Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
The other thing that stuck with me is that it is okay to let students lead the learning process as long as you are checking in with them and ensuring that expectations are clear and being met. You are not assessing the product you are assessing the learning along the way and if the learning outcomes have been met. This was a great reminder to myself that those conversations that I have with my students are the most valuable part of my assessment. Sometimes my students are not able to produce what it is that is expected but I can still see that they are learning. They can explain their learning to me and I see those moments that things click. I also see where things are not making sense and I can plan for ways to re-address them as a class as well as in small groups and individually. If 1 student has a question, sometimes more do and other times I realize I was unclear and need to clarify. Accepting this has helped me grow a lot. Mind you, this whole year is all about growth.
The last thing about planning is that it needs to be student focused. Students need to have a say in the planning. Based on their questions can drive incredible lessons because they are curious. They want to know the answer or they wouldn’t have asked it. I have to remember this because all questions are important to the student who asked them. Maybe not appropriate for right now but I am thinking of making a spot for students to leave sticky notes so that anyone who can answer them at a better time, can answer those questions.
Lots going on in this #WeirdEd chat tonight with no questions to direct the conversation with many great ideas. Here is the Storify from tonight