What I learned at the art show about teacher professional development.

2016 Fife Public Schools Art Show!

I had the pleasure of attending our district’s art show last night.  As always, the talents of our students with the brilliant guidance of their teachers, just rocked me.  The art piece above is from a 5th grade student at one of our elementary schools.  In addition to it being a cool piece of art, the way the student arrived at creating this art is also cool.  The teacher explained to me that the project is based on the Genius Hour concept.  The kids followed 3 steps to make their art happen.  1.  The Big Question.  About what did they want to learn more?  2. Research and create.  3.  Present.  The teacher, Erica Meske, does amazing work with kids.  As she was describing the way kids made this art and how the Genius Hour inspired her, she said, “The sky is the limit.  Anything can be art.”

The sky is the limit.  Anything can be art.

-Erica Meske, Art Teacher

This whole project and her approach struck me in terms of teacher professional learning.

This week, I had the chance to read Aaron Hogan’s article ‘41 Books Worth Reading‘.  This is a great resource (‎@aaron_hogan).  One of the books from the list I immediately started reading.  It’s called Personalized PD: Flipping Your Professional Development by Jason Bretzmann (@jbretzmann, ).  This book is already confirming in my mind where we need to take our professional learning opportunities for teachers.  Some quotes from the book that are shaping my thinking: 

“Personalizing professional development is one of the most transformational shifts in teacher training and school leadership today. The teachers we hire derive from different backgrounds and experiences, and the diversity and knowledge they bring to all of our schools increases the positive power of our school communities. It is a commonly held belief that no two teachers learn the exact same way, yet we have we been providing one-size-fits-all learning for teachers.”

“But we must first show our teachers the respect they deserve and trust them to learn from their experiences.”

“Our teachers should be encouraged to engage in education chats on twitter, attend EdCamps and conferences, make presentations in flipped staff meetings, and seek to participate in joint PD sessions with other schools and districts.”

“The process of Flipped PD seeks to find out where teachers are instead of disregarding it. It asks where you want to go instead of telling you where you should be. We start by asking, “Where are you? Where do you want to go?””

And my favorite quote, so far, “Wherever an individual starts, forward movement is key. Again, we aren’t talking about where teachers should be. We are talking about where they are, and then helping them move forward.”

Big question.  About what does a teacher want to learn more?  Time to research and create. Share.

“These people know what they are doing. It’s why they were hired, and why they are still here. They probably know what they need next. If we approach every professional development opportunity while repeating those three sentences, it will go a long way.”

Sounds good to me.

Author: Jnelson

Jeff Nelson Fife School District Assistant Superintendent:Teaching-Learning-Innovation 39 years as an educator. 16 years teacher 3 years assistant principal 12 years principal 8 years Assistant Superintendent BA, Washington State University MAEd, Washington State University Previous member of AWSP Legislative Committee Previous member of UW Tacoma PEAB, Administrative Certification Established and maintained Fife’s first website for 7 years Present work includes establishing the first Teaching/Learning/Innovation department in the Fife School District. Examples of responsibilities include: teacher/administrator professional development, assessment, TPEP, curriculum/materials review, 24 credit requirement, technology levy leadership, teacher/administrator bargaining. Initiatives underway in Fife, as a result of new TLI Department: AVID, OER, Curriculum and Materials reviews, Student Perception Pilot with CSTP, Google Expedition Cofounder of Educational Internet Communications, LLC. Marketed and sold one of the first online grade checking programs in the US. Consulted with Seattle Educational Internet Company for 2 years. jnelson@fifeschools.com twitter.com/jeffnelsonTLI

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