As you probably know, I have started working at a new school this year. You probably know that it’s not just a classroom teacher position, but an executive position where I am responsible for the professional learning of the teaching staff at the school. It’s this new role that has both excited and terrified me. I’m excited because professional learning for teachers is my passion, but terrified because I know the reality of schools. It’s grappling with this reality that has been the biggest challenge, and the biggest learning curve for me. Initially my focus was on introducing PBL to the whole staff, through subject-specific projects in year 8, and then a cross-KLA project with year 7. Well, despite my vision, and optimism, (and far too many pleading emails) this first focus has stalled. I think what I learnt the most from this first attempt at introducing something new, is not to make assumptions, and to communicate with people in person. Anyway, I quickly moved onto a second focus (whilst still holding out hope for the first) which is ICT based workshops for interested teachers.
After chatting with my friend Megan Townes, I came up with the idea of Tech and Tea – after school workshops where I would introduce teachers to a new web-based app, or tool, that would enhance teaching and learning. I provide afternoon tea as well. I made a flyer outlining all of the workshops, and advertised it to staff via a morning staff meeting and email. Here’s the flyer, which I made using Canva:
So, the first workshop was at a lunch time and was on Twitter and four teachers came – three from the English faculty, and one of our deputies. I provided WAY too much food, which gave away my overly optimistic assumption that heaps of teachers would want to come to my workshop on Twitter. I mean, Twitter and me! Who wouldn’t want to come? I have over 4500 followers – I am KNOWN, right? Well, no, I’m not. Busy teachers don’t give a rat’s about how many Twitter followers you have, or how long you’ve been tweeting for. Anyway, two of the teachers have started using Twitter now, which I think is a win – that’s two more than were on it before. Below is my presentation for the workshop. Maybe you might have more success luring teachers to your Twitter workshop?
The most recent Tech and Tea was also held at lunch time. It was on blogs – reading them and writing them. I brought less afternoon tea this time, but it was still too much. I sat by myself in the meeting room for the first half of lunch, and then half way through the second half one of the HSIE staff came in. She’s a lovely person, who is super keen to learn new things. I flicked through the slides of the blogging PPT, but discovered she was more interested in Twitter. We spent about ten minutes trying to set her up – it failed due to the Internet dropping out – and then the bell went, and it was time for class. Once again, here’s the slides if you want to use them.
So what have I learnt from this? I’ve learnt that I am stupidly persistent. I know I will continue to buy/make cakes and bring them in, sit in the meeting room and hope that someone will turn up. I’ll continue to email the whole staff and promote Tech and Tea, and share the PPTs with them incase they can’t come. I’ve learnt that teachers are crazy busy, and that I’m pretty much as insane as people have always hinted at. I spend way too much of my time thinking about teaching – as a profession, not as an activity that occupies me for most of the day. I’ve learnt that there must be another way to do PL, other than hoping people will turn up, and I’m going to find out what it is.