Monday 8.19 was our first day of pre-planning. It was our teacher’s first day back in the school preparing for students [7 day countdown!] It was exciting to see all the activity and interactions. There’s nothing like hearing all the interactions between returning and new teachers – catching up on summer experiences, what’s new with families and how things will be different for the upcoming school year.
School leaders prepare a lot of activities during this week for staff members. We look at these times as opportunities to share new and innovative teaching methods with teachers as well as paint a picture the for what teaching and learning will look like. This sets the tone for the year and is a great opportunity to let everyone know expectations.
My team and I prepped for days for our pre-planning week. Besides the operations information we had to cover, we wanted to make our first meetings to make a difference. I knew that one of of the topics I wanted to cover was working with our kids and I wanted to showcase a great discussion technique. I designed one of our opening talks to be a fishbowl activity and added a technology twist with TodaysMeet
After opening with a talk on good teaching and instruction and the purpose of schools, I began a presentation on what serving students in our community means. We have a high free and reduced population [over 80%], high transient numbers, and support families with a wide range of needs and concerns. I wanted to provide a forum where our new teachers could hear from some veteran teachers on strategies that work with our students [and some that don’t], new teachers who worked through some issues and teachers who have done a good job working with parents and community. The fishbowl activity was the perfect forum for this talk. I selected six staff members with varied years of experience and impact levels of dealing with our kids to form our center circle. They were given several talking points to discuss: ‘Share some strategies for working with our kids that have worked well and not so well’, ‘How do you effectively engage our parents/community member’, ‘How has our community changed over time.’ While they discussed this in center group, the remainder of the staff sat on the periphery listening carefully and forming questions. To capture their thoughts and side dialogues, they were asked to share comments and questions on a TodaysMeet link. We kept the link displayed prominently to show the great contributions. As the facilitator, I would periodically prompt the group with a fresh question/comment from the feed to keep the discussion relevant for the larger group and provide support to the inner circle with new topics.
This was great sharing activity. All participants got to participate on significant level. Gauging the eyes and body language, this facilitated a high level of engagement. Adding the TodaysMeet component not only brought in a tech value-add, it helped demonstrate to the staff that this tech integration is not limited to note-taking. Staff were able to dialogue share with other staff from across the room.
I definitely plan on using this discussion tool again! Great way to engage staff and let our faculty hear from the growing experts and get their real questions addressed.