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Mic Drop

Throughout this school year, I have shared the Neuqua Valley Collaborative Learning Team's journey to engage, empower, and inspire. In October, I blogged about our team's work over the past few years and our plans for collaboration by observing horizontally to experience what our students do on a daily basis. Click here to view that post for more info. In November, I highlighted the team's work after members observed various classes and shared how we reflected, hypothesized, and planned for future work. Click here to read more. Today, I am excited to share how the team used what we learned to lead our staff at this week's School Improvement Day. Let me tell was awesome and a total #EDUwin. Here's the story...

In January, the Collaborative Learning Team regrouped in order to get prepared for our future leadership role at the spring SIP day. You see, back in September when I met with our administrators to discuss our team's work for the year, leading this day and sharing our learning with staff was always the plan. We did this in the past and wanted to continue in this role as teacher leaders. So, I started our January meeting with a reminder that our team's goal was to engage, empower, and now INSPIRE our colleagues. I then shared our leadership plan:

Next, I encouraged the team to start with the student learning profiles we created at our November meeting based on their observations and to use them as a guide to choose a focus for their session. I used the following example to model the vision:
Groups were given choice over their session topic and options for time to work with their groups on this presentation. They were encouraged to share their learning from the classroom observations but also get their colleagues involved in the discussion. Over the next two months, team members continued observations and utilized one of the options to meet and plan their presentations. And man oh man, they did not disappoint.

I am proud to share the sessions that we offered to staff this week:

Before I jump into the presentations, I want to briefly talk about the process of creating these presentations. I talked with various members of the team about their group's work to prepare to inspire. Many of them shared that they were motivated by this collaborative process and tried new things in their classrooms based on what they learned during both observations and their reflections. They discussed student behaviors. They hashed out various instructional practices. They brainstormed ways to motivate students and help them overcome the barriers that typically get in their paths. THESE conversations are WHY we do this work. Collaboration. Communication. Critical Thinking. Learning. Honesty. Brainstorming. Awareness. This all happens when we take time to work with other teachers across the building to focus on a common goal: student learning.

Ok, so now to the good part. As I shared earlier, our School Improvement Day was a total #EDUwin. I walked into every session more than once, and teachers were engaged in thoughtful, crucial conversations with their colleagues. Our Team took the lead but also empowered the staff to take part in the discussion, to share what they see in their classrooms, and to open their minds to new strategies to help with current classroom issues like motivation, learned helplessness, choice and voice, grit, and more. I heard nothing but positive feedback from staff members who attended the sessions, as they appreciated hearing from other teachers around the building. Like I always say...teachers inspire teachers. What made me the most excited, you ask? Well, it was the joy I witnessed on our team members' faces when they shared with me how their session went and what they learned from taking this leadership role. Yes, the teachers on our team were engaged, empowered, and inspired by our work this year, but what they realized is that by doing this work, they were engaging, empowering, and inspiring our entire staff. Now, that calls for a boomshakalaka.
This brings me to my final point and the reason I call this an #EDUwin. After our morning sessions, we had a guest speaker, Dr. Lionel Allen, Jr., address our staff. Before he started, he complimented our teachers for the work he saw during the morning sessions run by the Collaborative Learning Team. He explained that he was pleased to see that teachers were talking about what they need to do differently or continue to do in order to motivate and inspire our students. We didn't blame students but instead took a closer look at how we can transform instructional practices to increase our students' motivation. These conversations forced us to consider how we can take some ownership in their achievement.  He shared that he was "encouraged" that teachers were teaching teachers and talking through these challenges we struggle to confront in the classroom. By doing this, he explained that "we were holding each other accountable."

Isn't that feedback awesome? Do you now understand why I call this an #EDUwin? Someone new to our school attended two sessions and was encouraged and inspired by our team's leadership and our teachers' willingness to engage. Back in October, check out how I ended my first blog post about our work: "As you can see, our future is bright. The process of observing horizontally, and experiencing what our own students do on a daily basis, is extremely powerful and will lead to some awesome reflections and conversations. Get excited...the Collaborative Learning Team is ready to engage, empower, and inspire. #whatsup"

Yes, my friends, we accomplished the goal we set out to conquer back in October. We engaged. We empowered. We inspired. (Insert Mic Drop)

Now comes the fun do we continue this awesome work next year? Stay tuned... #whatsup

Want to see more highlights from this day, including Dr. Allen's words about the sessions? Click here to check out the highlights on our school's Instagram page: @neuquavalley.