Saturday, March 10, 2018

Learning to Retain

I love to learn. It must be one of the reasons I do what I do. I get to learn new things every day at school. One joy I have found in my transition from teaching in a public school in Florida to an international school in Singapore is professional learning.

When new faculty arrive in Singapore there is a two-week settling in program. One week is all about living arrangements: housing, banking, utilities and the like. The second week is an introduction to the school. During that time, we met key administrators and familiarized ourselves with each division (early learning, elementary, middle and high school divisions). We also heard quite a bit from our superintendent.When our superintendent said that one retention strategy for talent at Singapore American School is professional development, I must say my insides did their happy dance.

I am that nerdy teacher. Here's just a quick list of opportunities we've had this year--these are just those sessions offered by the Office of Learning and not our stand-out learning in small groups we do weekly and monthly.

In September,  Jackson Kaguri spoke on campus and then one weekend,  Solution Tree put on a PLC at Work institute for international teachers.  Trevor Mackenzie came to work with teachers on inquiry. In October we had the opportunity to work with cross-discipline teams on inquiry projects with a facilitator from the Buck Institute.

At the Buck Institute session, I remember the facilitator talking about driving questions for inquiry. She repeated "driving question," "driving question." At one point a teacher raised a hand and said, "Could you clarify these questions and put them in a bit more context. How do these driving questions compare to the questions we create with Understanding by Design or to Sizer's essential questions?"

A teacher asked that clarifying question during a learning session held on a weekend. Pure learning gold-- I'd found my people.

The opportunities continued with poets and teaching artists,  Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger were on campus working with teachers and student poets at the end of October and writers, Elliot Schrefer and Patricia McCormick. In early November, we had an opportunity to do workshop with Holly Clark and  Sylvia Duckworth (on sketchnoting) prior to a Google Summit! A couple of weeks ago Rosetta Lee spoke on diversity and talking to teens about difficult topics.

These are just additional opportunities --these are the fancy learning picnics we take on special days or for long afternoons. This list doesn't count independent learning or the daily and weekly sustenance of PLCs or administrator led learning--both rich in dialogue and discovery. I love being surrounded by learners and opportunities to learn.

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