I got to work on one of my favorite projects of the school year Tuesday. Our district is in the second year of implementation of a new set of elementary literacy curriculum resources. This would be enough pressure. Now, add the fact we have 26 elementary schools spread across 13 communities and 411 sq. miles.
Getting folks on a page around deepening their practice is exceedingly difficult. Scheduling professional learning classes after school works for some schools if they’re nearby and creates a hardship for others who might have to drive 30 minutes immediately after teaching.
That’s why, this year, we’re taking a new approach to professional learning, communication, and information sharing. We launched a television show. The fourth Tuesday of each month, we stream a live television show using Youtube live. The show itself is about an hour in length and teachers who sign up for credit then complete an assignment related to the episode’s theme.
In August, we started with an episode dedicated to routines and procedures at the beginning of the school year. Yesterday’s episode was about using mid-year data to form a body of evidence to meet students’ needs. Each episode features news and updates from the curriculum office, a listing of upcoming classes, and teachers from the district.
This month’s episode included a 1-on-1 interview with one of our district assessment coordinators, a taped segment from a kindergarten classroom leveraging student inquiry, and a panel discussion featuring a second-grade teacher, a third-grade teacher, their principal, and the school’s literacy teacher. For 25 minutes we all discussed the practical ways the school works to build a body of evidence for each student’s learning and how they respond to identified needs.
Participants logged in from across the district, including those featured in the tweet below. No one had to get in their car, and those who had scheduling conflicts can watch the episode later. What’s more, we work to catalog each resource mentioned within an episode and link it in the show notes. We’ve started to see resources from one edge of the district pop up in classrooms three towns away.
— Mrs. Crill (@crillville) January 23, 2018
What’s more, we’re creating artifacts that can be utilized long after each episode airs. Principals looking for resources to use in staff meetings can pull one of the taped segments with accompanying reflection questions. They can zero in on a piece of the panel conversation to push their teachers’ thinking.
Come time for new teacher orientation next year, we’ll have an archive amounting to a full season of television to share with teachers new to the district.
The approach is not perfect. We’re certainly learning from each episode. But, we’re also hearing from teachers across our schools telling us they’re watching with their teams, streaming in their pajamas, and – in today’s case – gathering as a school to have conversations and learn from their peers.
You were great – our teachers were talking about shifting from celebrating point growth to growth in conceptual understanding!
— Mrs. Crill (@crillville) January 24, 2018