Last year, Centennial School tried out a model of teacher professional development that allowed teachers to get PD while kids were attending school and receiving focused learning. This model of PD is the brain child of Team Leader, Andrea Maxwell, who planned and organized the day last year and then again this year.
At the start of November, we enlisted the services of Karen David, who works providing professional development to teachers in the area of literacy and who donated thousands of dollars of literacy materials to the school. She came in to provide PD to our teachers focused on our school literacy goals of improving students' communication and comprehension skills.
While teachers were working with Ms. David, students started the day by gathering outside with Educational Assistants and Active Learning Program Leader, Patty Choma. Under Ms. Choma's direction, the students completed a variety of tasks that required them to learn outside; work effectively as a team; and communicate their learning via a combination of writing, speaking, and demonstrating on video. Staff were outside to supervise students, but were not allowed to assist them; for that, they needed to rely on their team. This activity hit both our school literacy goal and our school active learning goal, which is to make use of outdoor spaces for learning. It also touched on our socially responsible citizenship goal, which is about being kind to ourselves and others. Our Educational Assistants commented on their own learning about the importance of productive struggle - letting kids struggle and work to find solutions instead of jumping in to lead them to answers.
Students finished off this first part of the day by listening to a story told by Socially Responsibly Citizenship Team Leader, Leslie Wakeman, who challenged the students to think about responsible stewardship of our environment. One of our school goals is to learn how to adopt indigenous perspectives into our teaching, and Ms. Wakeman opted to address this goal by presenting an indigenous story.
After this, the students traveled to a variety of activities, all of which focused on one of our school goals, in small groups. They learned about mindfulness practices and self-regulation tools. They practiced effective communication orally (and blindfolded), pictorially, and without speaking. They did coding, writing computer programs to control a robot. They took part in the creation of a quilt that will be used to teach adults about how children learn. And the whole time, the kids felt like they were just having fun.
Good learning happened with staff. Good learning happened with kids. It was good, innovative professional development at Centennial School!