My principal lead us in a wonderful closing meeting today, and I wanted to take a moment to share the structure of this meeting with other principals to gain inspiration from. In our 2-hour division meeting, Bobby (my principal) lead us in an activity that was so thoughtfully constructed and showcased many best teaching practices. First off, instead of starting us all off in a large group together (to explain the agenda), he had us gather immediately in smaller, assigned groups. Each group had a designated leader who had been given all instructions in advance through a Google Doc. To set the scene, Bobby used Flipgrid to create an introductory video. This was a simple, easy way to bring his voice and tone into all rooms and set the stage for the activity ahead. Bobby had asked us all to read a short article over the weekend (Edutopia’s 6 Traits of Life-Changing Teachers) to be prepared for the activity. Reading the article in advance not only saved valuable time but, more importantly, allowed us to reflect and let the ideas from the piece simmer before we were asked to talk about it. Bobby did not give us the talking points ahead of time; so when reading the article, we were not zoned in on looking for specific “answers.”
Back to the activity. After showing the introductory video, group leaders were asked to share the 5 talking points. Most of these questions revolved around reflecting on things we did to teach/touch students beyond just teaching the curriculum. Each teacher was asked to create their own Google Doc to record individual answers. The reason for writing everything in a Google Doc was so that we can reference this at the beginning of next school year (Bobby has planned a follow-up activity so that, come fall, we are reminded of the goals and intentions we set for ourselves at the close of this year). As we answered the prompts individually, we turned to a partner and discussed our response. We did this for each of the 5 questions. At the conclusion of the activity, Bobby left us with a final prompt — In Flipgrid, respond to the following: “The 2017-2018 year brings new promise, new students, new opportunities… How will you approach the year differently and why (we always need to know our why)?”
We came back as a large group for the final 30 minutes of our meeting time to debrief on the article and to share things that came up when talking in our small groups.
I loved so many things about the way this activity was structured:
1. Bobby created a wonderful activity for us and then stepped aside to allow us to lead. As teachers, we all know the importance of letting go some control to allow students in our room to take ownership. This is not an easy task, but Bobby modeled it so well in this activity.
2. Using Flipgrid, Bobby was able to set the tone in each of our rooms with his message without requiring us all to meet in a room and then move to separate rooms. This saved time and energy.
3. The article Bobby asked us to read in advance of the meeting was uplifting and reminded us (or me, at least) of why I love teaching so much! At the end of one of the busiest years I’ve experienced, this was what I needed.
4. We will revisit this activity in the fall, to help ensure that we remember the goals we had set for ourselves.
5. Bobby modeled innovation and risk-taking in using Flipgrid for this activity. As with anything where technology is involved, some people will have trouble and things will not go ‘perfectly.’ This was Bobby’s first time using Flipgrid with an entire faculty. Some teachers had Flipgrid issues (I’ve found that this is almost always due to someone not having the most recent browser update on their machine), so there were some frustrations. But we were able to create something much more powerful than if we had just done things in a large discussion forum. Without taking that risk, and without accepting the fact that perfect is not always better, we are only able to achieve ordinary results. Personally, I know that what I shared in my Flipgrid was something that I would not have shared in a large group setting. So to me, activities like this are particularly valuable and worth the “risk.”
I hope you enjoyed reading about this activity and gained some inspiration/ideas from it. If you’re thinking I’m lucky to have a principal like Bobby, I already know!