Since establishing and solidifying my goals last November I have had the opportunity to attend several professional development sessions, which helped to reframe my viewpoints on the classroom. In early February I spent some time in Adaptive Schools training and pulled a few nuggets from the experience; mainly, that it is imperative to build a community of trust.
Without a healthy sense of trust in each other, in students, in the teacher, in the process, in the purpose, in general, many of the expectations of my goals would be impossible to achieve. Student’s need to feel that they can approach me in and outside of class to seek for clarification and understanding. I need to trust that students will let me know when they are confused, need help, or find materials helpful. The process needs to be clear and reliable so that it can be trusted on a daily basis. Trust is what binds the classroom as a unit, as a community, as a family.
The other nugget was a system of growth from small to large. Mainly, students come in many different shapes, sizes, and mindsets and not all will flourish in a whole class setting even if the class itself is relatively small (for example 10 kids). By building in different varieties of groups and small groups interactions, student will become more comfortable with their peers, and their ideas, which should lead to healthier community discussions and greater overall learner and feedback within the class. Sometimes the best feedback is given by a peer.
Just a few weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend Cultures of Thinking which helped me to further process how groups can benefit the learning environment and improve feedback, but more importantly it provided a series of routines and tools that promote more individual thinking within the classroom and hence foster greater and more diverse analytical thought. When I think about it, this facilitation of deeper thinking on the students’ part, helps to improve their understanding which leads to deeper questions and better feedback, whether it takes written or verbal form.
Ultimately, my journeys during these PDs helped me to further emphasize the importance of building authentic relationships with my kids in the hopes that trust can be truly fostered, and independent thinking can take hold. I have started to apply some thinking routines, such as peeling the fruit in conjunction with inclusive language and open-ended questions and thus far it has been fairly successful. I don’t feel I have gotten the chance to implement much of this during this academic year but have some good ideas to put into practice going forward.
On a separate note, I don’t feel I was able to spend as much time during this pilot process on developing and digging into my goals or ideas, as the day to day of school took over after the winter break. The big challenge is how to find balance in an environment that pulls at you from every direction.