My new focus – supporting professional development through student learning opportunities
I’ve been a bad edublogger. The last post I made was last June when I was in the classroom. I am currently in a central role (I’m currently the Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching contact in my board). While in a central role, I find it tough to blog. I feel as though all the great learning I want to blog about, is really someone else’s story to tell. The amazing teachers I work with – it’s their hard work, focus on student learning and professional learning that needs to be shared. It has been an AMAZING year with many great stories that need telling. As April wraps up I’m getting that buzzing, head spinning feeling when reflecting on the great work and amazing experiences students and teachers in our system have created so far.
It has taken me until now to finally be able to articulate my biggest learning this year. I have found the value in creating student learning opportunities that in turn engage teachers in professional development opportunities. I strongly believe that at the heart of every teachers value system is a deep and sincere love of learning and interest in student well-being. When teachers are presented with a rich opportunity for their students to connect with others and collaborate around real issues they are often more willing to take risks than if the goal started with their own learning.
Lucky for me, I am working in a wonderfully supportive, innovative, progressive and inclusive culture. I have been able to focus much of my energy on creating opportunities for students that in turn have led to some of the most drastic teacher learning I have ever witnessed. In this supportive culture, I have been able to meet my goals for the year through these non-traditional methods.
Some of the student learning opportunities our team has created include;
- SCDSB student film festival
- SCDSBlive student internet radio station and live on air video broadcasts
- CraftReconciliation project on Truth and Reconciliation
Student learning throughout these projects vary widely including literacy skills, media creation, oral language, active listening skills, critical thinking and Indigenous perspectives.
Teacher learning through the film festival has included media creation, gradual release of responsibility and integration of different subject areas. It also lets us all experience the process of providing peer critical feedback and providing time for students to improve their work based on this feedback. The radio station has prompted teachers from K to 12 to learn new technologies, pedagogies and ways of connecting students. Lastly, the Craft Reconciliation project has provided teachers with opportunities to learn new pedagogies, technologies and ways of encouraging students to own and lead difficult conversations with peers across the province. All of these projects have supported teachers in connecting to teachers outside of their classroom walls and to learn together and share.
My thinking around effective teacher professional development has changed throughout this year. While, I will continue to facilitate and support teacher collaborative inquiries and other powerful professional development, I am sold on the benefit of creating student learning opportunities as another form of professional development. Now comes the job of trying to capture some evidence of the learning!