Nothing has been ‘normal’ this school year. Hosting our 5th Annual Future Ready Conference, back in March, in our district, was no different.
For the past four years, we have been hosting our own conference on one of our workshop days. We have had staff members as well as outside speakers partake in sharing out best practices sessions. We have managed to have about 100 different sessions offered throughout the day to help meet the needs of all of our staff.
Instead of following the traditional format of listening to a keynote session and then attending four different hour long sessions, the Bedford School District Tech Team wanted to come up with a way that staff could still grow professionally without having to be in the same space. We wanted to think differently. We wanted to think purposefully. We didn’t want staff to be in front of their screens necessarily the entire day. As a result, a menu idea was born.
Ok, yes…the sound of Netflix went through my mind as I started typing. Each year, Jess Gilcreast (High School librarian), and I think of creative and different ways to provide professional development for the staff that we work with. We have tried it all, or at least seems that way. Whether it is providing ‘learning at your own time’ opportunities through Google Classroom, in person trainings, or online book chats through Twitter. We strive to keep things ‘fresh’ and continuously push the limits.
At the beginning of each school year, I am given two hours of training time with the staff at the high school to share new tech ideas, good to know tips and tricks tricks with existing tech resources, as well as helping set up that good ole’ grade book in Power School. Two hours can be a long time if you don’t set up the time appropriately. Teachers cannot just sit for two hours and absorb information. I know that I would want the presentation to be as interactive as possible, if I was the learner, so I keep that in mind when I deliver professional development.
The title of this post should speak for itself. “Stepping Outside My Comfortable Limits” – it is a statement that we hear from time to time. Well, I can say that I have done this recently. As a kid, I always dreaded reading. It just was not my thing. Give me some math problems to solve and I was right there ready to go with my mechanical pencil. Yes, I LOVED mechanical pencils! Well, fast forward to March 2018…who knew that I would be co-leading an online book chat with the librarian in my school, Jessica Gilcreast, as a means of delivering professional development. In fact, when I told my family about this, my brother thought I was lying and my mother smiled. In the end, once I truly convinced them of my task at hand, they were impressed with me. Put a smile on my face.
Last Friday, the Bedford School District hosted its second annual Future Ready Conference where over 100 sessions were offered by its own staff as well as a few outside presenters. This day reminded me yet again at how fortunate we are that our district is willing to provide an opportunity for all staff members in the district to get together in one place to learn and share ideas with each other. We modeled our day off of Medfield’s Digital Learning Day – thanks again Neal for the inspiration!
Most importantly, I am also proud and thankful that we have a staff who are willing to take the time, out of their already busy lives, to share their own experiences and knowledge on particular concepts/tools/ideas. Let’s face it, our day would not be as successful if we didn’t have staff who were willing to go above and beyond to put together engaging sessions to inspire others. What I think is also cool is that we had a couple of sessions where students were presenting to our staff, thanks to the National Honor Society and DECA students. Hands down, this staff development day is by far my favorite as we all get together to not only learn from one other but to also support one another. Below, I have curated some tweets to highlight #sau25discovers.
On another note, if you are inspired to try something new in your classroom and you would like assistance or want to talk things through, you know where to find me. And that is my spiel…