Thursday, September 10, 2015

LASD Teachers are Ready to Take Flight!

LASD Teachers Prepare for Flight!


Early in its life cycle, the monarch butterfly exists as a single egg, then as a larva, and finally as an unmoving, translucent chrysalis.  While observing a monarch in the pupa stage, it looks as if nothing is happening. The stillness is deceiving. Beneath the static chrysalis, there is an increase in cellular activity. The cells that will soon become the legs, wings, and eyes, are rapidly developing.The butterfly is in the process of developing the wings it will need to fly.
While many teachers intend to use summer solely for frozen daiquiris and poolside lounging, the truth is that summer is a busy time for teachers.  Empty classrooms and infrequent Tweets might suggest inactivity, but it is summer when many teachers are most active-- re-evaluating, re-organizing, refining and refocusing their craft for the upcoming school year. It is under the still of summer that many teachers develop their wings.   

Many diligent LASD teachers took advantage of  professional development opportunities this summer. These opportunities included Responsive Classroom training, the NSTA (National Science Teacher Association) Summer Institute, the Logo Summer Institute, the SVMI (Silicon Valley Math Initiative),  as well as MERIT and mini-MERIT Programs (Making Education Relevant and Interactive Through Technology). Not only did each of these learning experiences provide teachers with skills and confidence as a professional, but each experience also supports one or more of the seven LASD Learning Principles.
Providing students with social-emotional learning that extends beyond classroom walls, the Responsive Classroom supports four out of seven Learning Principles---Connected Experiences, Valuing Process,  Empowering Students and Nurturing a Growth Mindset. At the heart of the Responsive Classroom are “C.A.R.E.S.” (Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-control). Common Responsive Classroom practices include morning meeting, offering academic choice, and allowing students to create class rules with logical consequences. The value of process is demonstrated by the positive language and thinking routines observable in morning meeting as students practice C.A.R.E.S.  (Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-control) though a handshake, eye contact, and a kind greeting.
Mrs. Hu's class practices eye contact and listening during morning meeting.
In addition to Responsive Classroom training, teachers also gained expertise in the areas of STEM and  Next Generation Science Standards through participation in the NSTA Summer Institute and the Logo Summer Institute at M.I.T.  Attendees of the NSTA Summer Institute maintained laser focus on implementing (NGSS) Next Generation Science Standards to be used ASAP!  Similarly, the Logo Summer Institute in New York was yet another opportunity for LASD  teachers to elevate their expertise to a new level.  At Logo, STEM teachers explored design-based constructionist technologies such as Scratch, Arduinos, Bee Bots and 3D printing. Over the course of five days, teachers used the power of technology to engage and provide deeper learning experiences for students.
Both MERIT (two intensive weeks during summer @KCI ) and mini-MERIT (one intensive week during summer at your school site) introduced teachers to a variety of technology tools to facilitate the 4 C’s of 21st Century Learning.  At the core of the MERIT program is the use of technology for communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking within a student- centered learning environment.  Several of the LASD Learning Principles were echoed throughout the MERIT experience: the importance of process, providing relevant, connected experiences, as well as using technology to personalizing learning.
Over the summer, LASD teachers did a tremendous amount of learning, collaborating, and developing as professionals. While your colleagues may appear similar to the way they appeared in June, it is very likely that a transformation has occurred.  Perhaps this transformation is revealed through a new focus,  philosophy, or attitude. Like the monarch butterfly in the final stages of its metamorphosis, our teachers  have developed wings and are ready to take flight!

Contributed by Lisa Waxman, Technology Instructional Coach

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