April 24th was a big day for the 21st Century Learning department at the TCDSB. 100 teachers from all areas and panels of the board came together to learn about the fundamentals of the NeXt Lesson.
It was truly an amazing day as people finally got the “how” when talking about 21st Century Learning, and speaking as an educator, this is exactly the type of PD session that teachers crave. It was set up to be very interactive and to focus ENTIRELY on the tasks that teachers set up for their students. There are many reasons why I think it was well received but just to summarize:
- there was really no talk about reporting or book keeping. I believe that too many “initiatives” demand teachers to spend time and energy quantifying their work and that they truly want to spend more time “qualifying” it. By that I mean looking for quality in their practice and for ways to increase that
- the session looked to celebrate where teachers are and then offer them the ability to SELF-reflect, not have someone else assess what they are doing. (I think they call that professionalism)
- the most powerful part was when teachers were able to share with each other and bounce ideas off others
This last point is worth highlighting more. We had our Rockstar 8 in attendance. These were teachers that were selected from across the city to go through the first round of in-servicing on the neXt lesson and adapt their practice based on what they experienced. This was key as all the 8 were able to articulate what the PD did for them and how they felt equipped to use the system to inform and improve their practice. It did not hurt also that they were very powerful speakers and had great examples for the others to look at and absorb.
The complete NeXt Lesson booklet and presentation is found below but the basics of it is a list of six competencies:
- Knowledge Construction
- Real World Problem-Solving and Innovation
- Skilled Communication
- Self Regulation
- Use of ICT for Learning
These competencies are presented and articulated with a 5 stage spectrum from Entry to Transformation and teachers are given the spectrum with a number of questions that allow them to self reflect on their own learning activities to see where they fall and also how they can “tweek” their plans to move along the spectrum.
There is still more to come as there is a lot of work to do if we as a board are going to do what is necessary for the graduates of this century but I cannot imagine a better start than we have had this year. All very exciting and the result of the hard work of the planners and presenters and the energy and openness of the teachers involved.