Yesterday was our first day of school. As I walked through each of our six schoolhouses with our superintendent the energy found within each building was contagious! The beginning of a new year is filled with such anticipation, hope, and a bit of nervous energy. Everyone is starting with a clean slate and the possibilities seem endless.
My favorite quote of the day was from Mrs. Starkey, a fourth grade teacher at Endeavour Intermediate School, “I’m so excited. We get to have kids back in our building again!” That’s the heart of a great teacher.
As we continued to walk the hallways and pop in various classrooms throughout our district, I couldn’t help but think of the tremendous amount of learning that will occur over the next 180 days of school. Students will explore, challenge, and confirm all kinds of new thinking – socially, emotionally, and academically.
…and so will teachers. Every Monday morning our teachers will work in collaborative groups learning together about their practices and their students. Professional learning opportunities will occur throughout the year supporting our elementary teachers with their new math curriculum. Our Teaching Learning & Innovation Department will be providing book studies throughout the year in buildings requesting an opportunity to learn more about a specific theme, author, and/or topic. Our new staff will participate in a series of induction sessions to help welcome them into our district family. Our district’s 1:1 initiative, Fife Forward, will provide numerous professional learning sessions around all aspects of 21st Century Learning. Many more opportunities for individual and collaborative learning will occur all throughout the year – too many to mention them all in this post.
My challenge to us all is that we keep learning. Whether this is the first year of our journey as an educator, year ten, or year thirty four (that’s my number this year and yes I did start teaching at age 10).
At the most recent appointment with my oncologist (click here to read more about my health journey) he was sharing with me a new treatment that wasn’t known until six months ago. Think about that for a moment. Without Dr. Chitaley’s commitment to lifelong learning – he wouldn’t have known a powerful strategy that we can employ to prevent my breast cancer from returning. On a previous visit he shared with me how breast cancer treatment has changed over the past five years. What he designed for me to do in the next twenty weeks would have looked vastly different five years ago. Wow. I’m so very thankful that he keeps learning.
Do we keep learning as educators? Or are we stuck with the same practices that we learned about as undergrads or at a conference ten years ago? Do we continuously seek the latest knowledge about how the brain works, read up on what the latest research shows as effective practice, constantly check-in with our students to see what is working and adjust accordingly? Are our students getting the very best opportunity to learn based on our knowledge of the very latest strategy? Our students deserve to be in classrooms where we design engaging and empowered learning opportunities based on the very latest research and practice.
Keep learning. How do we do this with all that we have coming at us daily?
One of my favorite methods is via Twitter. I learn something new almost daily through my Twitter feed. Twitter allows me to connect with all kinds of people who:
- challenge my thinking
- share tips/tricks
- share failures
- ask questions
- encourage me to try new things
It also allows me to share the same with the world.
Our TLI Department has been encouraging staff to consider Twitter as a professional learning tool over the past few years. Here’s a listing of current accounts associated with Fife Public School staff and students if you’d like to follow along with their learning this year.
The other way in which I choose to learn is by reflection. I began this blog earlier this summer as a way of reflecting upon my own practice and processing some of the things that I learn along the way. I’d love you to follow along and share your thoughts back with me!
Keep learning. That’s my intention. Will you make it your’s as well?
Here’s to the best year yet!