Recently, my cohort over at #wsucohort1 has spent a lot of hours planning and implementing a district wide PLN initiative. If you need to learn more about PLNs you can read my blog post on the subject.
We wanted to create a way in which we could spread the joy of Twitter chat discussions, with the powerhouse of strong teachers that is the Byron school district. After much planning, we arrived at a solution which we could aim to improve teacher communication, resources, and bonding. Our 4 week long project centered its weekly topic around the mission statement of the district; Learn, Share, Innovate, Inspire. Each week we offered a series of questions to generate discussion about these aspects, and we archived the discussions as resources for all to have access to. We shared apps, ideas, lesson plans, and generally increased our connectedness between buildings.
Here are my personal thoughts on this project as well as my thoughts on its outcome:
1) Amount of difficulty vs. reward.
Although this task wasn’t a cakewalk, it was completely manageable as our cohort of 9 people shared the work and split up the tasks. As a new teacher, I was not familiar with this sort of activity and level planning it would take to get people on board. Thankfully we had experience in certain areas including design, advertising, assessing, and making it accessible between all of us. If your district does not yet have something like this, I would highly encourage it as the reward certainly justifies the work.
2) Impact on my understanding of learning.
This project showed me several things, namely the amount of diversity among teaching styles, ideas, and content area perspectives. I enjoyed reading the responses to the questions (give link to one) about what I thought would be straightforward and simple answers. For example, a question about innovation in the classroom had such varied responses that I needed to look them up on my own time. I learned more about types of innovative education from my own district than I had from a textbook. It was humbling as well because just when i thought I was starting to understand everything and come up into my own as a teacher, I felt completely green again. It also challenged my assumptions of my coworkers, who proved once again why Byron is an impressive district to work for.
3) Long lasting impact on myself
I cannot speak for the district, or even my cohort, but I can safely say for myself that this sort of activity inspired me as a teacher. I felt reenergized at a time which most teachers feel burnt out. I also felt proud to be part of something never done before, even if just on a small scale. I made connections with more of the teachers I do not usually see, and got to glimpse into their pedagogy and thought processes. As with the twitter chats in which I frequently share lessons, I also felt scared for putting my work out there to be judged by not the world, but even more terrifying, my co-workers (for reasons of having intelligent and advanced staff). This has become easier to do overtime, but is still enough to make me hesitate before I tweet anything out.
Overall, I think this couldn’t have went better thanks to the efforts of my cohort and those that participated. I only contributed a portion of the thoughts and final outcome, and I still feel prideful over being part of this. Thank you to all those that helped make this project a success!
I am a Health and Physical Education Teacher at Byron High School in Byron, Minnesota.