So this past week we held our faculty and staff Festival of Learning, which is our annual culminating event showcasing and highlighting the work, learning, and passion that we have all given to our Professional Learning Communities initiative throughout the school year…and it was awesome! I was a part of an incredible group of educators presenting work and learning around our commitment to social justice, but I also managed to get around and listen to over a dozen or so other inspiring group presentations, and truthfully, I was left speechless by what I saw.
All of the groups presented their collaborative learning in their specific chosen format, and the positive impact that their work will have on student learning moving forward is going to be staggering and transformational. This year our general theme was under the umbrella of “Agency”, and giving our faculty and staff their own agency to choose areas of passion and interest around that particular theme made all of the difference, as it allowed for deep ownership and purposeful self direction from all involved.
It reminded me so much of our Lower School Inspiration Projects, a structure where each student gets to present their passions and inspirations on four occasions during the school year. With that structure we intentionally turn the learning over to the kids, and what they come up with and present to the community always leaves our heads spinning in awe. Well, the Festival of Learning last week had a very similar feel to those student showcases, as it really did turn into an Inspiration Project opportunity for adults, and just like with the kids, everyone left last week’s event inspired and proud to be a part of such a rich and committed learning community.
I often speak about how the best professional development that schools can structure, suggest and support lies right at their fingertips within their own community. Faculty and staff teaching each other and learning from one another can be profound, empowering, and an inexpensive way to move a school forward in immeasurable ways. It takes strategic planning and structuring for sure, and a time and calendaring commitment, but wow is it ever worth it. I certainly see how sending educators off to great PD workshops and conferences and school visits can be super beneficial, and bringing in consultants can be transformative as well, but let’s not ever forget about what is lying right under our own noses…each other!
Leveraging our internal learning community is always a great idea and the right approach, and it is something that schools should prioritize each and every year in my opinion. From what I just witnessed last week here with our faculty and staff, it was absolutely the right decision to allocate numerous faculty meeting times to this endeavor, and from what I saw everyone left the event feeling inspired, excited, and well, all the better for it. You see, everyone wins if we take the time to learn from each other, inspire each other and share our individual and collective expertise…especially our students! Thank you to all the groups who gave so much to this initiative, and please know that each presentation really did have a deep impact…so good! Have a great week ahead and hang on for the final sprint to the end everyone, and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week…
There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about
-Margaret J. Wheatley
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