Sunday, July 21, 2013

Energized by excellent summer of Professional Development

With just about one year since I last posted here, I'll skip all the reasons why and jump right into the content of my post.  As always, I'll aim to post much more frequently and to actually develop a habit of blogging.

With the summer about 1/2 way done, my brain is shifting to the task of preparing for the fall.  For me, the biggest, most important task I need to prepare for is teachers' first week back, ... well actually teachers' first day back.  This is the day that I get to collaborate with my colleagues, establish our tone and purpose for the year and set the course for an excellent year.  While I've not yet come up with my theme for the year, many topics are swirling around in my head ranging form innovation, invention, excellence to global connections, deep learning and many more.  Eventually I'll find just the right theme to embed all of these ideas into one and it will all fall in place.

Along those lines, I'm finally at the place where all the wonderful PD opportunities I've experienced this summer are all starting to gel in my brain and shape my thinking for the coming year.  Here's a quick summary of the highlights of my summer PD experiences so far:

  • Pasi Sahlberg, author of Finnish Lessons, visited George Washington University right after school let out for summer and really made me think.  My biggest take away:  the success of the Finnish Education system is due in large part to the country's firm commitment to education and a culture that truly values education. He also stressed the importance of having kids invent.  
  • ASCD's Conference on Teaching Excellence held at the National Harbor Convention Center in Maryland. Where I had the opportunity to:
    • Join Grant Wiggins for an extended session about his book Essential Questions.  Perfect timing for this book to debut as my school just started working with this and we need guidance!
    • Delve into the Habits of Mind resources and ways of thinking
  • NAESP's Annual Conference held at the Baltimore Convention Center here in Maryland.  My key takeaways from this experience were:
    • Crayola's session about creativity in leadership (creating a new species from Model Magic was incredible!-- Go Team, Bunkie!) [Note to self, this experience made higher level thinking skills tangible]
    • Eric Jensen's KeyNote session was an inspiring reminder about the impacts of poverty, chronic stress, and the need for strong early education, vocabulary development and caring teachers who hold students accountable while believing that brains can change.
  • Numerous summer reads including,
    • Elements of Assessment by Douglas Reeves
    • Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers
      • "We must be the learners and leaders we wish our students to be." pg. 13 
    • Essential Questions by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (just started officially today)
This is the abbreviated list of excellent content that has been streaming through my head since mid-June.  I am so excited to finally have it all start to come together.  I'm in the beginning stages of planning the three 1/2 day sessions I'll have with my teachers to kick-off an incredible year and I'm so excited about it!  

To top it off, tonight I finally sat still long enough to learn Evernote.  I fell in love with it in minutes and don't know why I didn't start using it instantly when I downloaded it last year!  

I love the speed of summer since it allows time to digest and process information!  

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