Last year I applied and was a successful candidate for the Teacher Learning & Leadership Program. Our goal as a team was to explore the ways that technology can be integrated into a Core French classroom in order to improve teaching strategies and enrich student learning. We tried to focus on tasks that got our students communicating in spontaneous ways for authentic purposes. We would meet together once a month, discuss ideas, topics, apps, ideas and then plan one or several activities that we could then go back to our classrooms to implement. For me, one of the most valuable lessons has been the opportunity to collaborate with other Core French teachers. I know I have said this before, but often, as the only teacher of that subject in your school, you can feel isolated and don’t always have others to bounce ideas off of. This provided the perfect outlet. Many great minds came together to share the amazing things they are doing in their classrooms with one another. I’m not one for expressions usually (and to be completely honest, most of them I just don’t get lol) but this one I find very fitting: Many hands make light work.
Being able to share ideas with one another and get ideas from others, just makes life a bit easier once in a while.
Part of this program requires us to share our learning with others. We have attended and shared at OMLTA, we have been sharing ideas online via twitter and my website. Now, as we near the end of the year, our TLLP team has been hard at work planning an end of the year professional development workshop for our school board. We were inspired by the EdCamp model, after having attended EdCampSWO in Windsor. Essentially, we wanted to offer our participants choice as to what topics they were going to be offered, we wanted to offer multiple sessions at the same time so people could choose a session of interest to them. We also wanted people to feel welcome to move around between sessions. Normally at an EdCamp, the schedule is blank upon arrival and is filled out throughout the day by participants who want to share something they are doing or simply have a discussion around a certain idea or topic. For the first time offering something like this to our Core French teachers, we felt it was best to provide a bit more structure. It was still important to us to offer people choice though, because not everyone is on the same learning journey. We felt we could better meet the needs of our teachers if there was choice. So back in April we surveyed the Core French teachers in our board, giving them a variety of different topics, activities and apps that our TLLP team could speak to, in order to find out where the biggest needs and interests were.
We only ran a half day (which in hindsight could have DEFINITELY used a full day). We started with a 15 minute welcome and introduction. This was followed by 3, 30 minute sessions with a 5 minute travel time in between each one. During each 30 minute sessions, 3 workshops were being offered at the same time. The participants chose which ones they wanted to attend based on their own interest and skill level.
We also determined from our survey, people were interested in hearing about how technology relates to assessment and evaluation. So the end of the workshops, we also ran a quick cross panel discussion on how technology supports assessment and evaluation, as well as some of the ways each of us use it (apps, tips or tricks) to support these ideas and the gathering of student evidence.
Here is what our schedule for the PD session looked like.
Finally, at the end of the session, we had people fill out a survey for us providing us feedback on how they felt about the professional development opportunity. The feedback from the group was amazing! We felt so fortunate to have had this opportunity and to be able to share the things were doing with so many other amazing core French teachers and look forward to hopefully connecting with more of them in the near future!!