“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” Henry Ford
Being able to experience learning outside of your school’s four walls seems like standard practice for me. I think it should be required professional development for all teachers to extend their learning. Each year as a member of MVPS, I have been privileged enough to attend various forms of Professional Development. My first year, it was the Stanford d.School where I was engulfed by Design Thinking. The following summer witnessed me walking through the big city of Exeter, New Hampshire as I learned the Harkness Method. Recently, I traveled through the trails of Boulder Colorado and landed at Traverse 16.
Traverse ranks as one of my most meaningful learning experiences. Couple of reasons why, each session was an experience. Over the course of 2 ½ days I may have been spoken at for roughly an hour. Each experience was designed to get participates actively involved in the process. Sessions were three hours long but the time was so well planned it seemed so much shorter. I went to a session, received the overview of the session and went on an excursion to apply or obtain the learning. The final piece of the experience were the people. Traverse is limited to 100 participants so it is a real intimate setting. I felt like I came in contact with every participate. More importantly, I felt I made true connections with 20 or more people at this unique conference.
Some BIG IDEAS I was able to take away from this conference. There are so many educators working to change the state of education. The processes that we use may vary from Project Based Learning, Expeditionary Learning, Design Thinking, Big Picture Learning, and the list goes on; ultimately we want our students to have authentic and meaningful learning experiences. Another take away, I was reminded of the need to get students journaling on a consistent basis. I wonder how many great ideas I missed the past few years because of not allowing space and time for students to write. My thoughts around the best learning experiences come outside of the classroom, as we interviewed people on Pearl Street and as Watershed teachers shared their many expeditions.
Since Traverse is a production put together by the Watershed School I was able to connect with many of the amazing Watershed faculty members. Team members shared resources and gave me new ideas. They recharged my battery after a long exciting school year. They shared the well and refilled my bucket which will have a direct impact on the upcoming Humanities Course. Students will now journal everyday and I hope we will redesign the course to include resilience as a major theme.
The long-term impact of Traverse 16 may not be realized for many years. It seems that conversations are taking place to solidify a partnership between MVIFI and the Watershed School. With very similar mindsets it could set in motion a means to inspire and impact the next generation of educators and students. For me I plan to stay connected to the new members of my tribe and figure out how to grow meaningful relationships.
Have you had a meaningful Professional Development? What made it meaningful?