Once a month, our fellows meet with their coach in regional cohorts for small-group professional development workshops focused on teaching skills and emotional resilience. For the 2021-22 school year, we have decided to focus these sessions on formative assessment and teacher mindfulness specifically. Our big question here: how can we tell if students are learning during all parts of the lesson?
In August, we kicked-off with team-building and using Google Apps in the classroom. In September, fellows focused on designing engaging learning activities for students during direct instruction while practicing mindfulness techniques and continuing to learn about each other as a group of educators. For instruction, fellows looked specifically at note-taking strategies and graphic organizers; for mindfulness, fellows learned about breathing techniques. 91% of fellows reported getting something meaningful out of the session that they would take back to their classroom.
For the October regional workshop, fellows looked at checks for understanding that fit the first level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, such as finger ratings, collaboration boards, 4-corners, and “no opt out”. As the social-emotional strategy for this month, fellows explored a “checked baggage” technique and prepared to hold social-emotional learning check-ins with their students. Fellows were once again extremely responsive to the session with 91% agreeing they got something meaningful to take back to their classroom.
In November, we saw that fellows were struggling with their mental health and decided to focus primarily on processing the fall semester and learning self-care techniques. We did this by modeling strategies that teachers could also use in the classroom for student wellness and choice, such as a “self-care menu” of activities for fellows to engage in looking backward (reflection) or forward (vision). This has been the best received session of the year so far with 100% of fellows agreeing they got something meaningful out of the session and 100% agreeing they are able to find an applicable strategy to use for their self-care.
While continuing to respond to our fellows’ changing needs, we are looking forward to returning to our series on formative assessment in the spring. Specifically, we will be looking at using writing/speaking strategies and exit slips to measure student learning