Tuesday November 12th was a professional development day for the entire staff of the HWSD. The day was hosted by HWRHS and was jam-packed with more than enough education information for our 200 educators to handle.
We started the day with Harvard Professor, Tony Wagner, whose recent book, Creative Innovators,was the impetus for his discussion with our staff. Tony Wagner is currently the Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard.
Mr. Wagner has written several other books including: Closing the Achievement Gap, Change Leadership, Making the Grade and How Schools Change. In his most recent project he narrates, “The Finland Phenomenon:Inside the World’s Most Surprising School System.” You can view the entire 4 video set here. His website, Schoolchange.org has lots of useful and interesting information.
Throughout his talk Mr. Wagner challenged us to break the norms of the current educational delivery system and to take the risk to look at education differently with an eye towards innovation and creativity. He talked about some of the global education models like Finland and encouraged us to look towards more project-based, creative teaching and learning environments. Needless to say, he generated a lot of excitement!
After the opening discussion, teachers took part in over 40, fifty minute mini-workshops in a format called Edcamp. The workshops were designed and presented by the best experts we could find, our own teachers. We harnessed all of the power of our in-house experts to help everyone become more effective.
It was exciting to watch our teachers working with other teachers on ways to integrate technology into the classroom. They also discovered ways to develop classroom efficiencies and models of collaboration while learning about instructional strategies like Differentiated Instruction.
The excitement level is always high after days like this so we worked hard to try to keep the momentum going. The following day during our scheduled early release time the teachers were given free rein to tryout or discuss anything they learned during the day on Tuesday. Some teachers got together to discuss collaboration, creativity , communication and critical thinking while they explored ways to develop inter-disciplinary courses and course units. Others discussed Tony Wagner’s work and the implications for change at HWRHS while brainstorming ways to make these ideas come to life in our classrooms.
At the District level, we also had an awesome discussion during our Wednesday Leadership Team meeting that included ways we could support our teachers and students as we look towards changing the educational landscape of the HW schools. Our exuberance took us to places that we never thought we were ready to go. We talked about ways to develop and fund innovation throughout the district. I came away from that meeting with a huge amount of energy and a million ideas bouncing around in my head.
Now it is up to all of us to make it happen. We must be more creative, more innovative and more able to take risks that will make our schools models for other to emulate. I must say, our Tuesday all day professional development was definitely time well spent. Stay tuned!