One of my favorite parts of leading a school is providing meaningful Professional Development for teachers. I have worked at a BASIS Curriculum School for roughly 13 years now and have had many different opportunities to provide training for teachers. This began when I held the Dean of Students position and was able to create resources that allowed our teachers and fellow administrators to better support our students and has evolved over the years. Now, as the Head of School, I work with our Senior Director to look at the needs of our learning community and provide opportunities before school (as a part of in-service training) and during the school year (in our staff meetings) that allow our teachers to develop skills and perfect their craft of teaching. One of the things that I enjoy the most is giving our teachers an opportunity to lead training sessions as well, or collaborate in a way that allows them to share their passions with one another.
Over the course of my career in education, I have found that most teachers always have a few go-to education resources that they love, but never get the opportunity to share them with one another. So, I designed an activity that allowed them to do just that. We shared.
The activity that I designed to help facilitate this process (and named to match the format) was called “Educational Resource Speed Dating.” Basically, all of our teachers had to bring a resource to this session that they love using. Since a few of our teachers are joining us virtually at this time, I also made sure that the resource they brought could be shared online as well.
The overall activity lasted about one hour. For the first half hour, I designated one half of the room as the “presenters” and the other half as the “listeners.” They then rotated from one station to another (similar to speed dating) and learned about one another’s education resources for 2 minutes each. Once the two minutes expired, I rang a bell, and everyone switched. After 30 minutes, I switched the “presenters” to “listeners” and started the activity again.
I think all of the teachers really liked this and stayed actively engaged throughout the process. I also think that it was a great way to continue to build community around, and including our online teachers. For our online teachers waiting to join us due to current travel restrictions, we set up cell phones or laptops to video conference each of them in. We then created their own virtual stations within our space so that our in-person teachers could rotate to their stations and learn about their resources as well. This also allowed teachers to present to them when I flipped the roles in the activity.
This was a training session that seemed like a great idea in my head, but I was not sure how well it would come to fruition once I put it into action. But, I was quite pleased with how it went and how eager the teachers were to be both the “presenters” and “listeners.” It was also great to see the resources that they chose and their passion and excitement as they talked about how they use it in their everyday practice.
As education and teaching techniques are rapidly evolving to meet the changing needs of students and school communities during this time, helping our teachers learn about new resources and methods will certainly aid in adapting their teaching practices to the current environment. As a bonus, it also builds community between teachers and allows them the opportunity to get to know each other better and fosters potential opportunities for collaboration. Plus…it’s fun!
Elizabeth Thies is the founding Head of School at BASIS International School Bangkok, the first BASIS International School outside of China.