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Exposure and Experience

And just like that....we have reached the end of our school year. While we are always thankful for a break, I find it important to reflect on the year and to mentally start preparing for August. This year has been one to remember. As I've shared in the past, I experienced the best professional development of my career and am extremely thankful for the opportunity. This PD was free and gave me a chance to not only work with teachers but also work with more students. It made me a better colleague, teacher, and learner. This PD was right here at Neuqua and available to all staff at all times. This PD, my friends, came from observing classrooms.

As I reflect on this awesome professional development, these two words come to mind: Exposure and experience.

Exposure: Sitting in different classrooms, collaborating with various teachers, and revisiting courses I haven't experienced since high school provided new ideas, perspectives, appreciation, and most importantly, awareness. This exposure helped me understand what is happening outside of my classroom and department. It provided a chance to see what our students experience as they visit class periods throughout the day. I was exposed to awesome instructional practices that I could take to my own classroom that very day. I was also exposed to new ideas and instructional methods that sparked my curiosity and interest. Each week, I was energized and excited to share what I learned and witnessed by our staff and writing these blog posts became one of my favorite parts of the week.

Experience: My oh my, I've had some awesome and memorable experiences this year due to these classroom observations. I can honestly say that I remember bits and pieces of each week and each department I visited. What a testament to our staff and what we are doing in our classrooms on a daily basis for our students. Our goal in the classroom should not only be to provide positive learning experiences, but we should also strive to provide memorable experiences for our kids. Let's be honest....they won't remember everything we teach them; however, they will remember and cherish experiences that challenged them, engaged them, took them out of their comfort zone, and provided elements of curiosity and interest. Selfishly, I continued and even increased my classroom observations over the school year for these very reasons.

As stated earlier, I am extremely grateful that my unique schedule allowed me time to observe classrooms. The memorable experiences from these visits and exposure to different elements of our school improved many elements of my personal and professional life. Shouldn't we want the same thing for our students? If we want our students to experience ALL that high school has to offer, how can we encourage them to get a "taste" of everything while they are here? How can we provide more memorable experiences while exposing them to different options that help develop a variety of skills? These are the questions I will ponder this summer and use as a guide next year as I make plans for my classroom and professional development for staff.

So, will I continue this blog and classrooms observations next year? You betcha! Why you ask? This reflection tells it all: exposure and memorable experiences. Professionally and selfishly, these observations help make me a better colleague and leader in my field. While I know it is not the same for you as you read this blog, I hope that my writing and reflecting offers you a bit of exposure and awareness to all of these wonderful things happening at Neuqua Valley High School. Thanks for a great year!

Happy Summer! #whatsup

Click here to view pictures from my classroom visits this school year.