A day of inquiry coming on May 27th. The idea is to put on a 2 day inquiry project, one of which would involve a release day to meet on May 27th, the second one in June during exams. We're planning an evening session on May 26th and daytime session the next day. We using the model suggested by the BCTF for Teacher Inquiry and seeking our release time from the PGDTA PD Fund. Our intention is for each person to bring one powerful question related to their practice (assessment, student projects, technology, staff development, whatever the attendees are interested in) and discuss these for a few hours in the evening of the 26th informally, and then pick up the threads in the morning for more formal "critical friends" dialogue. We've found that these intense experiences, with a backdrop of good food and spectacular views, are a gorgeous way of doing Pro-D. We had initially thought of doing our day of inquiry at a local school, but one of our Pacslopers, JP, has suggested that this get-together take place at his lakehouse east of town and that we add an evening to the mix to get more out of it. We've done this a few times now, mainly at our Purden Lake Conference Centre (Rob's cabin), and they take a little longer than your average 9-2:30 PD day stuffed in a classroom, but they do wonders to help connect the year-long professional conversations we have online and face-to-face. Great inquiry. Great conversation. Great location. Great Pro-D.
Unpack. Mull. Fuse. 4th annual Mumbleypeg PD Fest on the shores of Purden Lake coming October 24th & 25th. Every year in the early Fall, more or less (since More With Less), we’ve descended on the SD13 Retreat Centre for an evening and day of great conversation, fare, and professional learning. This year’s theme is “Very Critical Friends” — we will be using feedback circles or project tuning to develop critical thinking and meaningful assessment in each other’s newest designs for student projects — of you are coming, please bring a brief project overview.
Here is a PD model that informs the way we have chosen to spend out time on PD days:
Professional Development (PD) has changed in the last 15 years. Before pervasive email, a comprehensive internet, and widespread social media, PD happened in trickles throughout the year and with singular emphasis on designated days. These PD days were one of the few times when teachers “received” PD in the form of a workshop, presentation, or group conversation. They tended to be “high-stakes” in the sense that there were few other formal opportunities for teachers to orient themselves to the new ideas that circulated in the education world. Now, for better or worse, we are saturated in educational ideas, competing paradigms, “must-read” professional articles, layers of jargon (each one “scaffolding” the next) and cures for what ails us in education — professional learning materials, ideas, and networks are available 24/7
Much of the buzz has been facilitated by technology and the mobile devices that few of us are far from. A brief foray into educational hashtags on Twitter reveals a river of PD that teachers can draw from sparingly or jump in with both feet. Thousands of BC educators contribute daily; it is hard not to be humbled by the sheer volume of earnest inquiry. In many of our schools we have built in collaborative time or similar structures and release grants to continue the learning that used to take place in hallways been class. The last few years has also seen the rise of EdCamps, Open Space, and Unconferencing — all of which are recognition that teachers want to compare notes and challenge or support each other far more than they want to be passive recipients of expert conclusions, no matter how brilliant. These trends also speak to the power of informal learning. There is also growing reluctance to spend our PD time alone — we get enough isolation from adults in our daily teaching, and social media leaves us craving something more embodied.
As we adjust to the ubiquitous nature of PD, it becomes more important that official PD days offer these opportunities to unpack or take stock of recent learning, to mull over and reflect on what this means for coming months, and to fuse or synthesize the ideas in the room into something useful or inspirational. For those whom professional learning is a life-long habit, particularly the ones who have made the digital PD leap and are rarely unconnected from other educators, there is an awareness that formal PD time isn’t about taking in new information or having PD “done to you.” Whether our five PD days each school year are spent as individual teacher inquiry or a co-creative process among colleagues, the customs are undergoing a significant shift and our administrative leaders, our teacher leaders and associations, need to change the way we frame, organize, and seek accountability for out PD time. PD days are the teachers’ assessment time for the professional learning that happens all year — a chance to unpack, to mull, and to fuse.
Join us on Friday Nov 30th as we shortcut the group-forming process of an Edcamp and get down to business. We meet at 9:00 a.m., PGSS, Room 645 to discuss whatever the participants bring with them from big questions to wild ideas, and find somewhere interesting to go for lunch. If it’s a small group, we’ll work through all inquiries, if it’s a big group, we’ll split into err… splinter cells based on common interests. If you like the cut of our jib, stay for the afternoon as we debrief and figure out what to do with the conversation. Daryl B. is bringing some questions (and colleagues?) around critical thinking in the Community Alt Social Studies context, and Rob & Glen have a key question on moving from assessing knowledge/understanding of curriculum to assessing critical thinking and ability to solve problems in (mainly) Social Studies. We’re hoping Kelly Inden, FSJ teacher, can join us as well. See what keeps her up at night at http://messyprofessional.wordpress.com/ and http://geography12.wordpress.com/. Ian will be back from his “staycation.” Joe has survived “Soviet Survivor” with some stories to tell. Bill is overdue for a Pacific Slope adventure. Maybe Lorne has forgiven us for hiding on him last year. Hopefully other inquirists or newcomers can join us and complete the circle. No knife-throwing at this event, but we do look forward to the conversation.
Here’s a summary on Thielmann’s Blog Cabin that takes a run at what we did at our 2012 retreat Oct 18-19.
October 19th -- 3rd annual PSC “leadership” retreat at the Purden Centre…
This PD model takes the best of Edcamp (collaboration among teachers around shared inquiries) and the worst of public education (frantically trying to sort out and mitigate the impact of the factory system) and shakes them together in a martini mixer of fire, knife-throwing, conversation, grilled foodstuffs, mutual accountability, starry-eyed anarchism, and critical analysis of current events and pressing issues.
Each participant brings one or more questions to discuss. We use a modified Socratic Fire Circle to debate and deconstruct the inquiries and inquirists at the same time.
So far, this year’s questions include:
1. What would it take to pull off a Gr. 12 multi-school student trip to Vimy Ridge in 2017 for the 100 yr anniversary?
2. How should enriched SS9/SS10 and History 12 respond to demographic changes and no provincial exam?
3. How can we unravel and guide a better use of online resources without falling into ineffective patterns?
4. What would a savvy, proactive response to BC grad changes would look like — e.g. assessment of core competencies
5. How could blended learning be used to combine courses and allow some authentic form of personalized learning?
6. What are the pros and cons of PLNs and PD on Twitter?
The Pacific Slope
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