I vividly remember sitting in staff meetings as a teacher and getting talked at as the principal went over data that was so small I couldn’t even see it. To pass the time my colleagues and I would play a game called “Hydrate Now”. Whoever drank the most water was the winner. While this silly memory did build lasting friendships, it also left a lasting impression that today encourages me to put energy and effort into creating real meaning when it comes to content as well as how staff meetings look and feel. Namely, giving the majority to our time to small group rotations and choice that focuses on professional development for teachers, by teachers!
This past week’s meeting was a great example of this kind of staff meeting turned professional development: After some quick updates all together in the library from me, one of our amazing teachers showed us different tech tips that took us deeper with online programs we currently use. From there we broke into three groups led by Rio teachers for Rio teachers. Our teachers worked in teams of two to zoom in on and share their learnings around the Workshop Model, Mentor Texts, and Conferring from the Cotsen Conference they attended last month. Teachers not presenting had choice in selecting two out of the three sessions to attend as participants. It was a beautiful afternoon of sharing and learning!
This coming week we have an optional Wednesday afternoon where teachers are welcome to attend a deeper version of each session or attend the third session that they did not yet attend. In my thinking, giving choice and making professional development optional at times is a great way to go deeper and provide opportunities for teachers to learn from one another even when it’s not a must do!
Choice, rotation, depth of learning over time, and peers teaching and learning from one another is exactly what we want to model and provide for our students as well. These are key pieces of what I believe will give a resounding yes to my opening question, not only for staff but for students: Would students come to school if they didn’t have to? I believe that when we meet student needs in this way the answer is yes.