Thursday, July 21, 2016

Set the Stage to Engage, Part Two: Engagement Island!

Welcome back for part two of my engagement posts! Sorry for the delay! My computer was sick (and thankfully fixed without harm) and I was away for a couple of days at the beach. 

When my three coworkers and I came back from Get Your Teach On Conference, we were asked to give a PD on what we learned at the conference. We were really excited to share what we learned but we were only given two hours to share so we hoped we could fit everything in that we wanted to say. After some brainstorming and planning, we were able to pick out the most important things that we wanted to share and in the time constraint. 

In true Hope King fashion, we wanted to transform the Media Center (where we were having the PD) so that our staff could have the true experience. We wanted our staff to find their teaching paradise so we came up with an island theme and called it Engagement Island. 

Here are some pictures of how we decorated our media center. We made flight tickets and put them in everyone's mailbox the day before. We covered the windows and made sure that no one could see in while they were at school. We wanted to peek their interest and get them excited about the PD. We wouldn't open the doors until the time on their ticket and wouldn't you know...people were lined up at the door 5 minutes early, just waiting to get in!!! Not many people are early for meetings so it was great to see that everyone was eager to join us! We played island music, gave everyone a lei as they walked in, and gave them a tropical snack. 

Our goal was to teach our coworkers about what we learned at the conference but to make it applicable to our students and school. We incorporated some of the call and responses that we learned throughout our presentation and our coworkers responded well to that! Our favorite one is the teacher yells "Shark Bait!" and the students yell "Hoo Ha Ha!" and slam their hands on the desk and give their attention. We use a school wide call and it has started to lose its magic so it's nice to have more options.

As we prepared for this presentation, we realized that we all identified with different methods of engagement. Hope King had shared that we didn't need to engage students the same way and that was clear within the ladies I teach with. My friend and blogging buddy, Kim (from Flipping Into Kindergarten), likes to engage her students with games. She shared several different ways that you can use common board games in class and how to differentiate them for all learners. The students' excitement for the game helped them learn the content in a fun way. My friend, Jessica, likes to engage with songs to teach content. She loves taking songs and trying to change the words to help students remember information. I remember last year when I was at a conference, she taught my students a song from Ron Clark that helped them understand area and perimeter. They were so excited to share it with me and it helped them when completing tasks in class.

My friend and teammate, Cheryl, likes to engage with storytelling. She loves to be dramatic and she can really get into a character. She is a relational and open teacher with her students so being able to tell stories to help students connect with content is so powerful. I like to engage through room transformations. I love that my students could be transported somewhere else in order to completely experience content. Many students aren't able to travel and may not have a lot of background knowledge about different places, so this is a great opportunity. 

In a couple of these pictures, you can see that we all took turns standing up on stools and chairs throughout the room. This was a technique that we took from Hope as well. If you move around the room and unexpectedly get up on chairs, the students will have to track you and be ready for anything. This is an easy change to make and a powerful one as well!

We packed a lot of information into two hours but our staff did a great job participating with us. In the four years I have been at my school, it was the most attentive I had seen people be and they also seemed excited! As the weeks went on, we had teachers using new call and responses, transforming their rooms, and stepping out of their comfort zone when teaching. It was amazing to see that our staff really took what we shared with them and tried to incorporate it into their own craft. 

I am so blessed to be surrounded by amazing, reflective educators that want to be the best that they can be. I am so glad that Kim, Jessica, Cheryl, and I went to the Get Your Teach On Conference and that we are there for each other, pushing each other to greatness!