Many thanks to our inspirations for this months’ blog: Hartford High School, North Branford Intermediate, Kent Center School, Housatonic Valley Regional High School, Suffield High School, Sarah Noble Intermediate And the child-inspired The Ninth Night of Hanukkah in celebration of the “shamash.”
Last week, I (Amy) probably joined thousands who tried to hang holiday lights unsuccessfully because the outdoor outlet wasn’t working (cue visions of Chevy Chase). As I am not proficient in the workings of electricity and actually pretty fearful, I immediately:
- Tried possible solutions such as flipping the breaker, plugging in a different item and testing the lights with a different outlet, but with the same outcome, a dark roofline.
- Asked the neighbor who had some experience who reviewed the situation and after dismantling the outlet, deemed it “shot” and identified that additional outlets were miswired
- Called the electrician who replaced the outlets
- Was disappointed in the aesthetics of the replacements, consulted with another neighbor, then Googled options and how to change the protective covers after watching a video.
New outcome: working electrical outlets, working electrical outlets, aesthetically pleasing covers, beautiful lights, happy homeowner.
In talking with Patrick about this, clear parallels arose based on our coaching of instructional leaders and teacher leaders over the past month. Of course, every day, our teachers and service providers are facing far greater challenges than the typical home repair or the effective display of holiday decorations, but they require the same number of options to further their learning and that will enable them to problem solve.
While my house is now illuminated each night, consider how you can bring light into your schools in the new year…because aren’t the many holidays we celebrate during this month really about hope, celebration, and clarity?
“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”Edith Wharton
As an instructional leader, you can create light and maximize opportunities for staff to learn anytime, anywhere. But, thinking about my steps, this will only happen if we continue to:
- Message and promote risk-taking with new tools and strategies or adapting known effective practices
- Build capacity for peer-peer collaboration so colleagues become think partners who also provide high quality feedback
- Ensure access to “knowledgeable others” (Lyn Sharratt, 2019)
- Ensure access to resources in varied mediums as support looks different for each learner
The key is to take steps every day to cultivate a culture of learning where everyone is a learner and everyone is a teacher. You can accomplish this by:
- Ensuring you know your individual staff members as learners
- Identifying the expertise of your staff to build, celebrate, and share strengths
- Empowering staff as learners to own their own learning by reflecting on impact
- Back-mapping the support based on the key outcomes for your school
- Facilitating purposeful choice and areas of focus by ensuring each staff member has an accurate understanding of their impact
- Utilizing observation, artifact reviews, and feedback cycles. Peers, coaches, and leaders should Give the Gift of Feedback to personalize support, identify strengths, and inform PLCs and PL.
“A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle.”Thomas Jefferson
Top 10 Tapers & Torches
We have organized 10 recommendations collected from the schools and districts we mentioned at the beginning of this blog who work to ensure learning can occur anytime and anywhere for their staff. These Top 10 recommendations create opportunities for staff to collaborate to collect school trend data, see new practices, tools, or strategies in action, support a peer taking a risk or encourage risk taking on the part of the viewer, give feedback, engage as think partners processing impact, celebrate success, identify levels of professional learning implementation, and identify needs.
- View live virtual lessons using a virtual pineapple chart
- View live virtual lessons in small groups (1 can share a screen so all do not have to “enter” the room)
- View live virtual lessons for sweeps in small groups such as with an instructional leadership team
- View recorded lessons utilizing platforms like Edthena
- View student digital artifacts or teacher created resources/tasks in tools such as Flipgrid (Add a “Co-pilot”)
- View virtual classroom organization in Google Classrooms or Seesaw (“Invite Teachers”)
- Share their practices focused on impact on learners at a faculty meeting
- Share their practices focused on impact on learners at a full or modified Virtual EdCamp or create Learning Menus (Choice Boards) for teachers
- View and/or create in-house 3-5 minute “commercials,” or “how to’s” for new strategies, tools, applications as screencasts or more interactive EdPuzzle
- DO: house in a central hub or Google site focused on learner outcomes vs. names of tech tools
- DO: find ways to collaborate with network/neighboring schools to share
- View/Add to curated blogs, tutorials, free resources housed in a central site
And, don’t forget…these 10 recommendations can be adapted and used to support leaders and families as well!!
Untangle the String of Lights
Now is the time to organize and plan the systems you will need to have in place to implement even just one of our suggestions and identify how you can use observation and feedback to drive the support and design of the learning for all in your buildings.
At the end of the day, this is about ensuring teachers, leaders, and service providers have access to each other and the learning they need to be successful. This is about supporting well-being. This is about the power of collective efficacy. Regardless of your position in your school or district, be someone who creates light or reflects the light in others on your team.
Need further guidance in the implementation of anywhere, anytime learning grounded in observation and feedback?
Contact us directly and check out our resources and new webinars on our site
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