The announcement of a school improvement day is usually met with a resounding and unified sigh as teachers prepare to spend an entire day talking about things that may or may not happen, depending on the time of the month and the weather in Antarctica, as well the rotation of the Earth compared to Saturn’s rings….
OK maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but more often than not, school improvement days need some improving themselves. This year, our district acquired a new superintendent – (who is bomb – for real, he’s awesome) – and his main goal is for the entire district to fully make the switch to student-centered personalized learning. For the final SIP day, he made the decision to totally revamp it into a personalized learning experience for the teachers. Practice what you preach, right?
K-12 teachers, administrators, even people from the community, could volunteer to teach an hour-long breakout session on a topic of their choice. These topics ranged from building a community garden at your school, to behavior interventions, to WeVideo 101. Once the full schedule was made, it was sent out for us to pick the five breakout sessions we wanted to attend. There was even an opportunity to spend one of the breakout sessions with your coworkers to collaborate. There were 25+ breakout sessions for us to choose from, which is incredible. Here’s just a small snapshot of the schedule:
Not only is this version of a SIP day beneficial to the continuing education we need as educators, but it also gives you a chance to meet and talk with teachers from other schools and grades within the district. You can make connections and share ideas – even offer support with a new idea someone wants to implement. It also allows you to truly understand where your students are coming from. A 6th grade teacher and a 5th grade teacher can discuss ways to prepare students for middle school. High school teachers can collaborate with middle school teachers with that same idea in mind.
I know this isn’t a novel idea and I know that many schools already do this, but I cannot stress enough how incredibly beneficial this type of teacher-centered learning was for me and can be for you. As a relatively new teacher, not only do I have so much to learn, but I also have so many ideas and questions and plans. Being able to collaborate with educators from so many different areas of expertise was an incredible experience that will truly help me as an educator to better myself.