Transformational Teacher Series: Introduction
I am constantly amazed by the outstanding teaching and learning I get to see in the classrooms in our district. I like to believe this is something happening in schools across our nation. I know that not all classrooms, teachers, students are at the highest level at all times as there is always room to grow. I like to focus on those rooms that have learning experiences that are making a difference and dig into what is making them great. There is a huge benefit to educators walking into the classrooms of other educators to share ideas, see models of good instruction, and to collaborate on strategies. The time it takes to do this is not always available. Luckily with social media like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and through blog posts, teachers can share ideas in a manner that opens their classrooms up to others.
I wanted to take time to highlight some of the teachers I work with that have transformed their teaching over the years. These teachers have sought out professional learning opportunities to develop their skills and application of those skills. Over the next couple of months, as we close out this school year, I will highlight a transformational teacher in a series of blog posts. Each teacher has a unique story of how they have reconstructed their strategies for teaching.
What makes a transformational teacher?
A willingness to learn and grow is the start of any positive transformation. It comes with the understanding that it won't be easy, but it will be worth it. It also is known that it doesn't happen overnight and improvement is ongoing. It comes from incremental steps as new strategies are applied, reflected upon, adjusted, and turned into quality habits. This Edutopia article, "4 Things Transformational Teachers Do" highlights this key factor:
"The key to transformational teaching is not reacting, but rather a grinding obsession with analysis and preparation."
It also identifies key strategies a transformational teacher puts in place.
How do we build transformational teachers?
In our district, we offer a variety of professional development experiences for teachers. There are two specific programs our Instructional Technology Training team focuses on that allow me to build relationships with educators across the district. First, we modeled our district's Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) program off of the global one Microsoft provides. It is a three year rotational program that builds up the technology integration skills of teachers to apply their learning in their classroom with the goal of them sharing their learning with others and serving as leaders in their building. Many of the transformational teachers I will be showcasing have grown from this program. My colleague, Melissa Cleaver, created the image below that highlights the key components of the program. Our district's MIE program allows teachers to build on their interests as they learn new tools, pedagogy, and strategies for implementation.
The second core program we support is a cohort of teachers working towards their Instructional Technology Leadership (ITL) endorsement with a local university. The ITL program is grant funded and focused on our librarians and MIEs gaining deeper skills than what our MIE program above can provide. It is an intense look at the 21st Century Skills our students need, the pedagogy behind teaching these skills, and the technology that will support this. This is where I have seen the greatest growth of our transformational teachers. The intensity of the program allows them to apply their coursework to their classroom. The end goal of the program is to not only transform them as teachers, but to create connected educators that will share their experience with others. I teach a course in the program called, "Technology for Diverse Learners." As part of the course, I visit the classrooms of each of my students. These visits allow me to form a stronger relationship with the educators and support them through their learning. Many of the transformational teachers I will showcase have completed this endorsement program.
How can You Start your transformation?
Finding the model teachers in your building or district to collaborate with is a great start. Look further to those sharing on social media and through blog posts including the ones I highlight in this series. Edutopia shares, "9 Ways to Plan Transformational Lessons" that can be used to reflect on your current lesson planning. Your starting point may be to find an area in your instruction that you know needs to be improved on, but you may feel uncomfortable shifting. Then take the risk.
Mother, wife, teacher, learner, information seeker, outdoor lover, & I guess now a novice blogger.