Next year our school is undergoing a structure change. This structure will better support our goals of personalized learning, flexible grouping across the grade level, deep teacher collaboration, and a slew of other goals. We have an innovative staff who are connected to best and next practices, but change is change and it is tricky.
Today I led a professional development/planning/brainstorming session for one of my newly combined teams for next year. We began with team building and looking at all of our strengths and communication styles. We talked about how we deal with conflict, our ideals for communication, and the things we need to feel part of a collaborative team.
After laying the groundwork for this new PLC, we began envisioning the future together. We talked about our hopes and dreams as a team, for the learning experiences we will create together next year, and our dreams for all of the students. After this brainstorming and dreaming process we stepped back into the nitty-gritty of getting there. As kindergarten and first grade teachers, they knew this required a lot of steps back...there is a lot of groundwork to lay as students learn how to be learners in a group, how to ask questions and find answers, how to notice and share what they are learning...the list goes on.
It is my first year in this coaching role, so I am learning how to be on the facilitating end of the professional development! In reflecting on the day today, I see so many parallels to when I was in the classroom.
First...wait time. As the facilitator I felt myself wanting to jump in and move them along anytime there was silence. Yet as I bit my tongue and waited through that uncomfortable part, often some of the deepest thinking or best questions arose.
Turning questions back to the group was huge as well. I'm trying to squash the notion that I have the answers, I know what's best, or that there even is a right or wrong answer. Our new structure creates the framework for flexible grouping and teaming, but there is a lot of flexibility within it and I wanted the team to realize that today. My hope is that they had a change to wrap their brains around it and think about how to make it their own. I could talk and talk about how I would do it or how I envision it, but come September, they are the ones in the classrooms every day. By turning a lot of the wonderings back to the group, great conversations happened.
I am excited for the progress we made and the ideas that were arising today. The teaming, communication and collaboration are off to a good start!