This year, one focus of professional development in our junior high buildings has been preparedness for next year’s one-to-one technology roll out. To be clear, teacher training in our district is never centered on technology as an end in itself, but on ways in which digital access serves as a powerful tool to extend, deepen, and personalize learning.
Today, HSE21 Shorts would like to introduce you to a PD model that has been successful and rewarding this year: the HSeLearning Cohort. Our inaugural HSeLearning Cohort has been a group of seventh and eighth grade teachers who are meeting this spring to expand their skill sets and prepare for change. The Cohort is composed of ten teachers from each of our District’s three junior high buildings (30 in all). Selected by their principals, these teachers cut across all subject areas but are united by their growth mindset and willingness to risk.
The HSeLearning Cohort has thus far completed three of four full days of learning together. Topics have ranged from district-supported software applications to social media to digital tools for formative assessment. Working in subject area teams, teachers have discovered portals for rigorous and relevant digital content, and have explored their role as modelers of digital citizenship for this generation. With the help of Matt Miller (www.ditchthattextbook.com), the Cohort even dialogued with teacher in Argentina via Google Hangouts. Matt used this experience to help our teachers understand the potential global reach of our classrooms in the 21st century.
What has made the Cohort PD model enjoyable and successful? Many things: relevant, timely content that has emphasized practical classroom applications, time to design lessons and plan for next year, and, above all, relationship and connections. In coming back together each month this spring, HSeLearning Cohort teachers have had the opportunity to work together with others who teach the same academic content. They’ve built friendships. Though their buildings are miles apart (RJH to FJH to HJH = 12+ miles), HSE21 Shorts predicts that many of these teachers will continue to share ideas and collaborate–something that’s vital to highly effective teaching practice in today’s digital world.