Once again I am showcasing another powerful learning moment spent with educators in our building. The other week we had an inservice to enhance our teaching practices to engage learners. One of the things we have pushed for when we have say in our building PD is the opportunity for choice. Teachers in our building present breakout sessions based on conferences they have attended, new strategies, mental health, etc. It is up to the staff to volunteer and share and it is up to the staff to choose which session they want to attend.
Another instructional coach and I hosted a BreakoutEDU session. We chose the Dr. Johnson storyline because I believe it is a great one to start with when it comes to learning about BreakoutEDU. Additionally, we wanted to showcase the themes of teamwork, collaboration, and a variety of clues.
I will not go into the storyline as I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will share that we ran two sessions with two very different groups of teachers. The first session did not solve the mystery in 45 minutes. The second session solved it in 25 minutes. Regardless of their end result, I was able to witness some incredibly powerful moments of teamwork, collaboration, and problem solving.
First, I did not realize how many potential connections existed in my room. I watched them analyze everything counting the patterns on a LED project I soldered for Halloween, to looking at tack colors and comparing to arrows, to breaking down longitude/latitude, to looking at a robot sculpture and comparing to a robot diagram on my whiteboard. I learned more about my room from these groups of educators than I ever thought possible. I also realized how much power thinking can go into a challenge like this one.
Second, I witnessed the power of having ebb and flow to group dynamics. There were moments when they all worked together. There were times when they broke into large groups. There were times when they broke down even smaller into super small groups. Some took on solo jobs. Sometimes there was a bit of everything. Then they would come back together and then break out again. I learned something powerful. How often do we allow this to happen in our classrooms? Often times we give students a specific group and that is it. Could there be power to flexible grouping? Do we develop high level thinking opportunities to warrant flexible grouping?
Third, expedite the inevitable. There are times when we need a hint. We hit roadblocks and just need a boost. We have to realize when to ask for help. We cannot accept waving the white flag, but sometimes our collective knowledge is simply not enough.
Fourth, Think like an entrepreneur. Create like an innovator. Perform like a teammate. This is going to be a display in my room. I witnessed all three mindsets occur while the groups tried to solve the problem. I was able to understand that these mindsets are what we need to provide to our students. However, it starts with us as educators. Depending on the situation we must swap our mindset hats to meet the needs of the group or challenge.
In the end, I was again so proud and felt so lucky to work with these amazing people. They dove right in, took it serious, and worked like mad to make it happen. We talked about next steps and how to apply to our classrooms and already I have about five teachers who we will be working to develop some opportunities to weave this type of activity into their own classrooms.
Isn’t this what PD is all about? Learn about ourselves, connect with others, collaborate on challenges, and get excited about enhancing our classroom practices?
I cannot wait to launch the next one and give some of these teachers a chance for a rematch. I am now working to think how to make one that would allow the whole staff to experience this type of learning opportunity.