Recently, a new friend [John McMillan pictured below] and I had the great experience to deliver a presentation entitled ‘Collaboration for Continuous Improvement’ to principals in our district.
Our presentation was on the collaborative approach our separate schools took in creating instructional walk thrus, the focal points for each and how we use the information gathered to create formative assessment data and talks for our leadership groups. This was a great talk! Not only were John and I able to learn from each other and share part of our journey with one another, we created a great learning opportunity for the other principals. Our talk was well received by audience members. It was a great chance to meet and work with a great administrator in our district as well as share some best practices.
This wasn’t the first presentation I’ve made but it is the first in a long time that has made me take another look at the power or making presentations and attending learning opportunities, like conferences, to grow as an educator.
As an attendee, the opportunity to hear better practices and theory from experts or other practicing educators is an entirely different opportunity that from reading or independent study. Sometimes hearing how others are actually putting theory into practice helps us realize that it can be done and, if you’re competitive like me, gives an impetus to do it better. Why not learn from the expert or leader? Why not go to learning and bring the impact back?
As a presenter, the opportunity to share is a great gift. During our presentation, it was great to hear that our considerations, the plans that we’ve each put in place during this school year, were well received by other schools and that other educators benefited from hearing us. We are all educators and are committed to affect how all students learn, not just in our own building. A true benefit for me is to bounce my ideas off great educators who will likely some great feedback to help me grow. Case in point: My portion of the presentation was on using GoogleForms for instructional walk thrus . After this presentation, Cal Violette, @bearprincipal, followed up with a great question on how can we archive past observation data. I have never considered that before. He gave some great reasons from needing to make that happen and compelled me to brainstorm some solutions over the weekend. It took awhile but I came up with several options that can fulfill that. My instructional team has been using GoogleForms all year long and we never considered this need. This is a prime example of needing to go beyond our silos to share and engage in others to better our ‘best practices.’
And nothing beats the opportunity to network and connect with other educators. Our world is shrinking. With social media opportunities growing and evolving we have unprecedented opportunities to connect beyond initial meetings at conferences and workshops. Skype and Hangouts are learning extensions for these growth opportunities.
To get our schools where they need to get, to provide the best learning opportunties for students and to move teachers to different levels, we have to be willing to tear down silos and encourage these alternate learning opportunites.
Connect, share and grow!