Sunday, January 17, 2016

Getting ReChargeEd

It's cold.

It's very cold.

Here in Wisconsin we had a high of 1 degree Fahrenheit today. Yesterday was warmer, but still quite cold. I shouldn't complain, it is January. With wind chills of -30 it's hard to even get the energy up to leave the house. This is why I laid in my warm bed on Saturday at 6:00 am wondering why I signed up to attend a professional development opportunity on a Saturday. Fortunately, I couldn't change my mind because a co-worker was coming to pick me up at 7:00.

My school was well represented at the ReChargeEd Unconference being held at Kettle Moraine Middle School. The facility was beautiful and just oozed opportunities for collaboration and creativity. During the opening remarks we were shown this quick video:

The day turned out to be perfect. Exactly what I needed. I find that between department leadership demands and keeping up with Special Education paperwork I don't often have the time (or energy) to do what I really enjoy:  planning for students. I attended two sessions in the morning; one on PBL and the other on gamification. Then, my brain was full. All I wanted to do was sit down and plan some activities for my math students and investigate some of the resources that I had learned about. Fortunately, there were breakout areas where participants were encouraged to sit and collaborate if wanted. Lucky for me, my department mate, Stephanie, was feeling the same way so we made our way into the commons area and did some work. 

The day was energizing and I went home and wrote a grant for some Breakout EDU boxes that I have spent all day today thinking about. I also designed a lesson that integrates a Dan Meyer activity. The last few weekends have been spent writing IEPs and doing other paperwork related to my leadership responsibilities. It was refreshing to have some time to focus on student work and lesson design. 

Not only did I leave with ideas for the classes I co-teach, I also left with some ideas for professional development at my school. This was my first unconference experience and I think the model was brilliant. All too often I find teachers saying that they just want some time to explore with others who have similar interests. I hope that this model is something that I'll be able to bring to my school in the future. The focus was on personalized learning but the day really just felt like we were discussing what learning looks like or SHOULD look like. What if every teacher in a school, not adopted, but owned the attitudes of innovation, student centered learning and transformed their practice to teach students collaboration and problem solving? The possibilities are limitless. 

I do feel recharged!

Maybe I won't begrudgingly leave the house tomorrow morning in the subzero temperatures. Perhaps I'll leave the house with a little bit more enthusiasm. 

Here's my Storify from the day