This past Friday, our Thoughtful Classroom group at GCS met with teachers from three other school districts in our HS Library. They came to our district to carry on with our learning about Thoughtful Classroom strategies. I’ve written previously about Thoughtful Classroom, Harvey Silver and Susan Morris.
I join three high school teachers, a middle school teacher, and our middle school principal on this team. We started learning together last summer and the training, centered primarily on learning styles pedagogy, has been worthwhile and sustained.
Unlike some staff development, this is an ongoing, three year commitment to learning. It means we continue to be accountable for the content and for our own learning. We’re in year one and I’m really looking forward to year two, when we expand our current learning club of six by doubling our number.
Already you can imagine that this is a bit different than the one shot staff development so often offered. The amazing difference continues when you realize that two of our teachers, Ms. Geist and Mr. Ruzycki, put themselves out there in a way seldom of us ever do. They team taught a lesson to an English 9 class in front of about 18 educators and Dan Moirao, the expert who joined us from Thoughtful Classroom.
Andrea and Kris taught using a strategy from our training, a carousel. Afterwards, they sat quietly and listened as we offered our thoughts on the lesson. They then had the opportunity to reflect and a wonderful discussion about learning strategies ensued.
My hat is off to both teachers for having the courage to try the lesson and then listen intently for feedback. They model good teaching through their openness to learn and to improve.
It was a terrific lesson, granted, so 99% of what they heard from us was positive. But we could also reflect on how we’ve used the strategy and then ask questions and share with one another.
I wish I could go back and teach the students I had for ten years at Pine Valley all over again. I’ve learned so much by observing wonderful teachers that I know I would do a much better job now. Had I been a member of a learning club, I could have learned from my colleagues and applied the knowledge then, when my students would have directly benefited.
Administrators get to see the best of the best through evaluative visits and casual observations. We need to do more to encourage teachers to learn from one another. I’m excited about our learning club and how this change to our culture of learning as educators will improve GCS for our students.