As the staff, parents and students of Parkland School Division know, today was the first day of Teacher’s Convention. While students are excited for an extra-long weekend and parents are often left to figure out how to keep their kids busy, teachers find themselves immersed in two days of learning, professional dialogue and fun!
I used to measure the quality of a professional development session by the old standard of “Can I take something away to use on Monday?” A really good session provided two or three great ideas that I could simply “copy and paste” into my classroom but we know so much more now. Back then I definitely wasn’t considering my contextual variables (TQS) in nearly enough depth but rather looking for the next great idea. Today proved to be so much more.
In addition to being able to reconnect with colleagues who I haven’t seen in quite a while, I was able to meet new friends and talk about the work that is so meaningful for us all. Erin Gruwell, the teacher who inspired the movie Freedom Writers inspired us too. She reminded us that kids really just need HOPE! While we do not all work in dangerous, inner city schools, our kids also face challenges and if we can help them to maintain their sense of hope, they will persevere.
Moving from the inspirational to the “actionable” Jonathan Elzinga and Jamie Peters provided participants in their session, Google Tips and Tricks with several tools that we can explore to help us use technology just a bit more effectively with our students. While there were many great ideas, I am only going to take the time to share a few in this post.
They showed participants how to shorten URLs. While this doesn’t seem all that Earth shattering, as teachers we all know how difficult it can be to get kids to correctly type in a URL from the SMARTboard. Why not make their job just a bit easier and reduce the obstacle of 2 plane copying. They also introduced us to a method to remove the advertisements from YouTube. Who would’ve known! Again, not quite as significant as the invention of the light bulb but it’s great not to have some unknown, potentially inappropriate ad playing prior to a useful video! One more cool tool to share – while I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, Kaizena appears to have great potential as a way to provide verbal feedback to our students using google docs. This might be the most meaningful learning from the session, hence why it requires further exploration.
These two sessions only provide a snapshot of the learning that I was able to engage in today, but hopefully they will help others to reflect on their own professional learning as well.
I am really looking forward to another great day at convention tomorrow.
Principal, Blueberry School