Like many people, the start of this school year has been exciting, tumultuous and slightly a bit of a blur. But the most exciting thing for me is that I've gotten a chance to see my dreams of real professional development take fruition.
Last year I had the honor of observing and working with a cohort group of teachers who wanted to change the face of learning. These #breakthroughclassrooms teachers in Mahopac Central School District were on fire and the excitement was contagious. The Breakthrough initiative was championed by all the right stake-holders. Led by Dr. Adam Pease (who is now the Assistant Superintendent of Chappaqua Central School District) breakthrough classrooms broke through the silos of all different types of professional development and approached it all together.
Breakthrough classrooms address pedagogy, rigor, infused technology, flexible seating, approaches for mindfulness and even some teachers even started employing aromatherapy in their classes. This was just scratching the surface, every session of Breakthrough was facilitated in a fashion we would want to see our teachers facilitate our classrooms. The goal, give innovation space to prosper in a cohort environment.
The idea was to break away from rows and columns of chairs but to let students decide how to position themselves to where they learn best, to break away from the idea of technology as the end of a project but an amplifier of learning and make student thinking visible. To remove barriers to engagement and to develop deep trust that when students are allowed to take the lead in learning instead of simply complying that they will surprise all of us.
The words from these teachers: “I have been teaching for over 25 years and I am more excited to go to work now than year one!”
“It is amazing when administration trusts us to choose our professional development, to change our rooms. To be trusted by our leaders to do what we feel is best is empowering”
Needless to say I was quickly enamored of the “breakthrough way” and started to talk about it, a lot. One of the unique features about being split between 3 school districts is I have the opportunity to bring the wonderful news from one District to another. The other two districts toured Mahopac to see what I was describing
Fast forward, now two of my school districts and their courageous leaders sought to adopt something similar for their districts. We now have two cohorts in different locations that are joined by one Google+ community and a Flipgrid to support each other in this endeavor.
Speaking only for myself it is has been very lonely at times being an innovative teacher, by definition innovation is something new, undefined and progressive. Innovation is unpredictable and innovative teachers are often seen as the “wild cards” and unpredictable themselves.
It has been a passion of mine to champion these teachers, these kindred teacher spirits and to see what happens when we stop saying “no or yeah but” instead start saying “yes and”.
Follow the hashtags #InnovatePV and #DFinnovates to see the amazing work that is happening. And of course the #breakthroughClassroom Teachers are the ones who started it all.
To the “Breakthrough Teachers” thank you for embodying everything that is wonderful about teaching and being adventurous. To the #DFinnovates and #InnovatePV groups, let's have some fun!
I am a technology leader, professional developer, teacher, parent and proud owner of an IEP. Let's talk about some fabulous learning experiences.