Imagine, if you can, a world where teachers are given choice in their professional development, where they lead their own research and collaborate with others to hone their craft. You wouldn’t have to imagine too much if you are familiar with the Collaborative Research and Development Professional Development instituted by the administrative team at the Wellsville Secondary School of Mary Ellen O’Connell (Secondary Principal), Jason Mank (Assistant Principal) and Rick Bull (Assistant Principal).
After some initial planning and collaboration by the administrative team, Mary Ellen contacted me with the idea and from there we created a Moodle course on Poverty around Poor Students, Rich Teaching by Eric Jensen, a FlipGrid component (thanks to Mark Beckwith for this idea and support) for reflection and as an instructional classroom tool. The team’s vision was to create opportunities for teachers to select to collaborate with others in their building around their four main initiatives for the year poverty, assessment, PBL and positive relationships with students and families.
Teachers may be researching and collaborating around something they saw at a BOCES workshop, or a conference or that they read about and want to dig into deeper. Mary Ellen created the opportunity for that research to happen for them by replacing three faculty meetings with three hours of collaborative research and development with a requirement to use FlipGrid to share their learning and reflect on their practice. Teachers have four checkpoints (30-60 second videos) along the way where they get to share their learning and how they apply new knowledge their classroom practice.
To date, the administrative team has seen an increase in general collaboration among colleagues, an increase in FlipGrid use as an instructional tool by teachers in their classrooms and a deeper dive by teachers into areas of interest based on instruction or content. Mary Ellen stated “The engagement and interaction on FlipGrid has been unbelievable! We have only completed two of the four “checkpoints” and already my faculty has accumulated 3,500 views and over 21 hours of time online learning from each other’s research. It is clear they enjoy learning from each other’s experiences and research. I’m also very sure they love not attending traditional faculty meetings and they are having fun with the flipGrid format.”
If you had a chance to read the ASCD Educational Leadership journal When Teachers Lead their Own Learning in November 2018 you can note some of the same elements (choice, flexibility, personalization) from those articles in the work that the administrative team from the Wellsville Secondary School has created for their building. Change can be good!
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources