Saturday, February 13, 2016

Professional Development Made FUN & Meaningful

Kristi Combs, Instructional Partner at James Clemens High School

I have been fortunate in the last few years to work with some of the most talented, innovative, caring and genuine administrators.  Jennifer Hogan and Holly Sutherland helped me see the how and why of a school hashtag as well as how to leverage social media for good, rather than blocking these sites. They beautifully handled the awful YikYak app by flooding it with positive messages about students, teachers and our school.  

This quote from George Couros' METC16 opening Keynote immediately brought these two administrators to mind.  

This year the administrative trio of Kristi Combs (Instructional Partner), Allison Miller and Jennifer Flanagan WOWed me at the JCHS Retreat before school started and continue to model innovation and excellence in professional development in our school.

In particular, Kristi Combs, Instructional Partner at JCHS, is an invaluable resource for our teachers especially educators like myself who have been teaching over 20 years.  Kristi's main job is to provide professional development on sound yet innovative, research based teaching strategies.  Kristi doesn't just talk the talk but models the teaching strategies during the professional development sessions.  I also love that none of Kristi's sessions are "sit and get".  Teachers are actively engaged, talking, brainstorming and sharing throughout.  Additionally, for those of us who were actually taught in college the "lecture method",  Kristi will plan with and co-teach with teachers using best practice strategies learned in her PD sessions so that we can better understand how to implement what we have learned from her with our students.

What I love about this is that experienced educators like me don't feel as if our teaching methods are "wrong" but that there are better ways to not only engage but empower students in a classroom environment that has undergone dramatic changes since the days when I was a student teacher.  

Kristi, Allison, and Jennifer also empower teachers to be leaders during professional development sessions.  By doing this the sense of responsibility for professional learning falls on all of us and doesn't feel like a chore or forced time.  It leaves you feeling excited, refreshed, ready to go and more than anything it leaves you with a sense of being a part of a family within our school.

You know you are in a good place when you look forward to professional learning days!

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