Early last fall, I had the opportunity to sit with a team of sixth grade teachers at a middle school serving a large number of low-income Latino and African American students. Many of those students were at least two grade levels behind in reading. Their low literacy levels were wreaking havoc on their ability to learn content, engage in higher-level thinking, and build background knowledge.
A year earlier, in their PLC, this team decided that the solution was to use culturally responsive teaching (CRT) as a way to improve student learning and increase achievement.
When I visited with them, they were a bit perplexed why things hadn’t changed, because they’d instituted fun “call and response” chants at the beginning of class and created multicultural bulletin boards about music from different cultures and social justice topics. They’d spent time having “courageous conversations” about implicit bias. They’d tried this for a year, but reading scores didn’t improve and they couldn’t understand why.
As a new teacher, I’ve struggled in my classroom this last year. I’ve had lessons that don’t go as planned, students that I can’t seem to reach, and days where no matter how much I prepare, it doesn’t seem to be enough. I had this idea that I needed to be the “perfect” teacher. But let’s face it, there is not enough time to always be perfect, and perfect is boring.
I’ve had the chance to experience a lot of professional development as a teacher and this past year, we decided to do something new. Working out of our Teacher Center, I was able to ignite interest in using video to showcase new practices, capture implementation in action, and foster collaborative learning through video feedback and reflection. That said, this was a very thoughtful, inclusive, and informed implementation so that we had teachers with school-based mentors and support in using #anewkindofpd.
To hear all about our implementation plan — from our purpose for going this route, the process of setting it up, and the community building elements — listen to this podcast. Our District Assistant Superintendent Rose Ricca and myself talk about our grassroots implementation that resulted in impactful learning and growth for our teachers and students.
There are so many incredible advantages to using video to promote educational practices. Describing the art of teaching is not easy, particularly the nuanced ways in which teachers engage students, use questioning strategies, and move learning forward with feedback techniques.
“Classrooms are complex, busy places where countless multi-layered interactions take place as kids explore academic topics while developing identities, relationships, and social skills. You’d have to be able to stop time to tease out the intricacies of a single moment. Yet video helps you do just this, enabling you to go back and analyze classroom exchanges in depth, after the fact.”
Teams Fest traveled back in time to the 1950s in Palm Springs last week to see just how far we have (or haven’t) come in education. The goal was for all Teams to have:
- A big vision and a draft plan for 2016-2017
- New/improved ways to structure learning on Teams
- A network to support and push your work (at home and with Tch)
- Ideas, beliefs, and skills for leading learning this summer #anewkindofpd
The two days were full of camaraderie, collegial conversations, deep engagement with Teams, and of course, fun!
Join us in Palm Springs, California on May 19-20th for TeamsFest, Teaching Channel’s annual gathering for teachers, schools, districts, states, and nonprofits who are interested in video-based professional learning. The events at TeamsFest focus on the use and implementation of Teaching Channel’s blended learning platform called Teams. However, if you are into video for modeling and analyzing practice, TeamsFest is for you!
The sun shining down. Palm trees blowing in the wind. And you, with 150 of your newest thought partners learning together over video and Teams. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? This spring Teaching Channel Teams will host our Fest in Palm Springs, California, May 18-20, and you’re invited.
Six months ago Teaching Channel Teams rolled out our official blog “The Big Tent.” This space celebrates and elevates all of the amazing work that our Teams partners are doing on their sites. We hope it has also generated a sense of community and sparked imagination around the country about what’s possible with Teams. We’re loving the content our bloggers are sharing, but we know there’s more out there to highlight. That’s where you come in; we’re making an all-call and we need your help!
What an incredible group of educators. I’m so fortunate to have engaged with individuals and organizations deeply committed to supporting teachers honing their craft. For those of you that were unable to attend our Berkeley TeamsFest, you were missed, and to keep you in the “tent,” here are my five Fest takeaways. Festies, share more of your takeaways with our Teams community in the comments. Read more
Teams Fest took over the Berkeley marina last week for a deeper look at what it means to get better together under the big tent. The two problems or puzzles of practice that were explored included:
- How do we engineer deep learning experiences so that Teams is the spot where teachers, coaches, principals, district leaders, professors and researchers find their professional fuel?
- How is our profession growing as a result of our work? How are we shaping the national conversation about what it means to be a a teacher? A leader?
The two days were full of camaraderie, collegial conversations, deep engagement with Teams and of course, fun!