Sunday, September 5, 2010

5 ways to share how you light the world on fire...

Last week I was speaking with a colleague of mine, and we were discussing activities we could do during one of our professional development days.  As we discussed potential ideas, we turned our focus to activities that teachers could employ immediately.  We wanted to avoid activities that would require a lot of time and preparation in an effort to provide our teachers with several very strong and powerful strategies they could bring to the classroom in the following days.  This lead us to the idea of having teachers share their "best practices" with the other teachers at our high school.

We are extremely fortunate at my high school because we have a staff of over 100 teachers who are all doing great things that are having a positive impact on our student body.  The only thing missing is a forum where our teachers can share their "best practices" with other teachers.  This would enable every staff member to see over 100 "best practices," and they would be able to decide if they would like to try any of these strategies in their classrooms.  I honestly can not think of a better way to build future sharing and collaboration opportunities, while also developing the relationships of each and every staff member.  Creating an environment where teachers feel comfortable and open to sharing their "best practices" can only lead to future success, and most importantly more success for our students.

Here are 5 ways you can share the "best practices" of your staff members in an open and collaborative forum:

1) - Have your building or school set up a group on the school's website for teachers to share their "best practices."  Additionally, if your district uses an online gradebook, the gradebook software most likely allows you to create a group where teachers can type in their information for all other teachers to view.  

2) - Start a PLN (professional learning network) for your school.  This would allow teachers to post their strategies, as well as any additional documentation needed for teachers to try this strategy.  Teachers can access the school's PLN at any location with internet access.

3) - Start a blog for your school.  Each teacher can sign up to follow the blog, and this would allow teachers to make posts about their best practices while easily reading what other teachers have posted.

4) - Break into small groups during PD sessions and have each teacher briefly describe his/her "best practice," and how he/she has implemented this strategy in the classroom.

5) - Design an observation rotation system where teachers have the opportunity to observe another teacher on a day when he/she is using one of his/her "best practices."  This is more complex, but can be the most effective because teachers will then be able to see the strategy in a live class with live students.

With technology revolutionizing the way we approach education, it is only fair that educators start to embrace these opportunities to better themselves.  If you employed any of these strategies in your school please leave a comment and let me know how it went.  Additionally, if you have used other methods to share the "best practices" of teachers please feel free to add to my list.  I appreciate your help in compiling a longer list with the goal of helping teachers and administrators to build an environment where sharing and collaborating are a top priority.