The Educator's PLN

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Let me begin by giving full credit to this blog post to Andrea Hernandez, our Director of Teaching & Learning, not only for most of the ideas, but the links as well.  We are finishing up planning for next Friday's scheduled "Professional Development" Day - an annual day of school without students, dedicated to professional development.  And thanks to Andrea, who has championed this day of faculty learning for the last couple of years, along with Silvia Tolisano, our 21st Century Learning Specialist, we have planned a very exciting three-part day which we think will not only inspire our teachers on their ongoing journeys of growth, but will impact what teaching and learning looks like at the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School.

The first part of the day will be an "EdCamp".  What is "EdCamp"?

Edcamp is an "unconference" - an opportunity, without intense preparation or anxiety for teachers to "own" their professional learning.  Teachers will show up at edcamp and find a blank schedule - only time slots and locations.  They will then decide what topics they want to present on or which conversations they wish to facilitate and simply sign up until the schedule is complete.  And then the learning begins!

Sounds simple, which it is, but its power is in recognizing how much teachers already have to offer and how strong their desire is to learn from each other.  It is also an important acknowledgment that they are already experts in important topics and, thus, there is no need for intense preparation - simply share the work.

For those who are interested in diving deeper and being inspired, I invite you to watch this 16-minute TED talk by Kristen Swanson, a founder and planner for EdCamp Philly:

http://youtu.be/vVDUIoMavLM

For a fuller written description of the EdCamp model, I invite you to read this article from Edutopiahere.  For a reflection on one school's first experience with a faculty EdCamp, invite you to this blog post by Greg Millerhere.

We will have reflection built in to our EdCamp and I look forward to sharing mine once MJGDS EdCamp is complete.  But that's just the first chunk of our exciting day!

The lunch hour will be spent in our first-annual Faculty Hatzatah Contest!  What's a hatzatah?

הצתה    (“Hatzatah”= Ignition) is our adaptation of a popular presentation format based on Pecha Kucha and Ignite.  Each presenter has 5 minutes to share their idea, broken down into 20 slides, which automatically advance every 15 seconds.

Here are a few examples from edJEWcon 5772.0.

Each MJGDS Faculty Meeting begins with a hatzatah.  We find it a fantastic way to get our faculty to fulfill the moral imperative of sharing in a 21st century modality.  To celebrate and inspire our faculty to make more and better use of iPads in the classroom, we decided to host a Hatzatah Contest on the theme of "How has the use of iPads impacted my professional practice?"  The presentations will take place during lunch on our Professional Day, will be judged by an outside panel of 21st century learning experts, and the winner will be awarded an iPad.  We have a number of teachers competing and it should make for an amazing hour of faculty learning.

For educators who wish to dig deeper, I invite you to download the above graphic as a PDF, here, that we created through edJEWcon (which will be hosting its own Hatzatah Contest this spring) describing the rubric we use to judge.

The final part of the day will be spent unveiling our new learning "target".  Inspired by Jim Knight's book "Unmistakable Impact",  a committee of teachers and administrators have been working to put in writing a one-page "target" which describes how we believe teaching and learning ought to look at our school.  That committee has been meeting for a few months and will be presenting the target to the full faculty as the culminating activity for our Professional Day.  I fully intend to make that target transparent because it will be a guiding touchstone for all important decisions moving forward.  How we choose curriculum, how we decide on new use-of-technologies, how teachers ought to be evaluated, what student assessment ought to look like, etc., - all of those questions and more will be reexamined in light of whether they move us closer to or farther from the target.

Needless to say it should be an extraordinary day of learning that I am looking forward to with great anticipation.  And I look forward to sharing it with you soon.

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