"My room is like a violin solo, because when everything is in tune, it's kinda breathtaking."
What an amazing night with amazing educators! We kicked off our innovative Classroom4theFuture project with thirteen of St. Clair County's finest teachers, along with the support of two Port Huron's Instructional Technology team members, Jim Leishman and Kit Hard.
The evening kicked off with trying to Be More Dog, mixing and mingling, before settling in to work in grade-level teams. Quickly, teams settled into the rather challenging activity of comparing their classrooms to some very different, even weird things. Here are a few:
- My classroom is like "Vikings because at times there's battles, invasions, exploration, domination, conquering, and bravery."
- My classroom is like basketball because "there is lots of movement - sometimes a 'bounce doesn't go exactly where you think it might or should."
- My classroom is like an "aquarium because there are many different types with different needs and I get to feed and watch them."
- "My classroom is like a skyscraper because I try to get students to aim high."
- "My classroom is like a purse because it is so jammed full of stuff."
Once loosened up, teachers brainstormed the worst professional learning fears, then shifted to thinking about their greatest hopes for professional learning. Reflecting on their collective their Fears and Hopes, teams established norms and expectations they agreed to uphold as collaborative teams - and I solemnly swore to uphold them as well.
After teams shared their norms, everybody used the 3-12-3 protocol to brainstorm words and phrases that came to mind when they envisioned the Desired Learning they wish for their students. Once they had a few minutes to think of those qualities, they put their ideas together in a single deck of cards. Each team member drew a card that would then become part of a visual representation they would collaboratively draw for others to see. Major themes clearly arose among the decks of cards, including students' clear need for: engagement, a community of collaboration and cooperation, relevance, growth mindset and grit, voice and choice in their learning, joyful learning, a safe and positive classroom climate, independent opportunities, as well as the development of additional 21st Century skills such as creativity, problem solving, and technology use. I put the words on their cards into a Wordle, to see what stands out.
Teams shared their visual representations, and noticed many similarities, such as the value of student collaboration, ideas, choice, relevance and the need for learning from their peers.
Once teams established they have the same learning outcomes in mind, we moved on to thinking about the challenge at hand. Teachers began their new role as Classroom Anthropologists, experiencing Vuja De to find the Gorillas in their classrooms. To a normal person, this is an extremely strange sentence, but to the extraordinary Classroom4theFuture team, this means they are venturing back into their classroom to take field notes and to document evidence of the nuances in their classrooms. They are stepping out of their teacher experience to better understand the barriers in their classrooms, from the students' point of view, and from the open and curious mind of the Classroom Anthropologist (a.k.a. the More Dog Teacher). #BeMoreDog