In the Spring, our principal asked our teachers what they would like to see in our professional development this year. Yes, you read that right. Our administration asked the staff what they would like. The top request was for creating more engaging lessons utilizing the iPads.
In our October session, Shannon Soger @ShannonSoger shared with us her ideas about Teaching Above the Line. Shannon uses a model which combines the SAMR model and TPACK. Our teachers learned how to think about what and how they are teaching, by breaking it down into the 3 components of TPACK – Technology, Pedagogy, and Content/Knowledge. When we separate our content/knowledge from our pedagogy and technology use, it makes it easier to use a different pedagogical strategy into the lesson, and choose a new or different tech tool to enhance the lesson.
Once we take a closer look at how we are teaching and what tech tools we are using in the process; we are better equipped to take another step up the SAMR ladder by choosing new technology and adjusting our pedagogical strategies accordingly. This move may have some effect on what we are teaching (content/knowledge), but as we move up to Modification & Redefinition the resulting change should allow students the ability to explore this content on a higher level by evaluating & creating (Bloom’s taxonomy).
During November’s inservice, we followed up on Shannon’s ideas by asking teachers to take one of their existing lessons, and alter their pedagogy & technology tools in order to move one step up the SAMR model. For some of our teachers this will be Augmentation, but for most of them it will be to the Modification & Redefinition levels.
My presentation in November focused on moving teachers out of their comfort zone and creating more engaging lessons by following Shannon’s model and utilizing new tech tools and different strategies. I encouraged our teachers to try something new without a fear of failure. I gave them an Instead of that, Try This chart to get them started. This allowed them to look at what they were already doing, and making a slight but powerful alteration. By encouraging them to make a 30 degree change, I feel we will see more changes, with a higher success rate, than if we asked for major 180 degree changes all at once.
Teachers were also encouraged to invite other teachers and/or myself to observe these ‘new’ lessons, and to collaborate whenever possible. In early December we will meet in our PLC’s to share what we tried, what we observed, and most importantly what we learned in the processes.
During the inservice, I took a page from Dave Burgess‘ book Teach Like a Pirate, and asked our teachers the hard hitting question. “If students didn’t have to come to your class, would they?” In other words; Students have to go to an Algebra II class. Is it yours? I gave them a few minutes to discuss it and think about it, but I didn’t want to hear their answers. It is a question that only has 2 possible answers. If that answer is NO, do you have the growth mindset to fix it? Do you have the drive and desire to break down your lessons and make them better by rebuilding them?
Remember, we don’t strive to be better teacher in order to see our names in the Teacher Hall of Fame. We strive to be better teachers so our students can be more engaged in the process, and learn how to be a lifelong learner from our modeling of a growth mindset.