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Triangulating a welcome

The Center was fortunate to work with our school heads over the summer to re-imagine how we welcome and embrace and support faculty who are new to our school.  Those imaginings began to manifest this week.  Yesterday, we got to engage with new members of faculty, many of their mentors, as well as our professional development coordinator team.  We wanted to welcome, embrace, and support faculty right away while also creating connections and open invitations to collaboration and partnership.  We aimed to further the growing culture of reflection and innovation that continues to be a hallmark of teaching and learning at Providence Day School.  A fine set of ambitions for 60 minutes of shared experience.

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Using the Project Studio zone in The Curve of our new academic building.

During the hour together, we began to unpack a new tool we designed for reflecting on teaching and learning.  We all tried to triangulate our self-reflection along three axes (x = difficulty, y = curiosity, z = impact).  We took lines out of our professional development handbook (after a couple practice rounds e.g. “ocean surfing”).  We asked faculty to use an indoor snowball to plot a point in 3D space that allowed them to consider how difficult the task or skill might be for them.  We had them consider how curious they were about that same task or skill.  Finally, we had them wonder about how much the task or skill would impact student learning.

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x = difficulty, y = curiosity, z = impact

For example, we asked everyone to position their snowball along those axes when considering this statement: Create opportunities for students to bring their identities into the classroom.  Some folks indicated this was more or less difficult than others.  Everyone was curious, but there were varying degrees of curiosity represented.  There was almost universal agreement about this particular statement having high impact on students learning (see image below).

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Student identity in the classroom is impactful.

Having physically explored these triangulations, everyone was invited to explore the reflection tool in small groups.  This exploration welcomed everyone (new to PDS and returning) into our ongoing conversations: how might we all grow more curious about teaching and learning? how might we get better together at those skills and tasks we find difficult? how might we keep the impact on student learning at the fore of everything we do?

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Welcoming everyone into conversations about teaching and learning.

Toward the end of our time together, we all used the snowball data points to have an indoor snowball fight.  Not too difficult.  Not much curiosity.  Lots of impact in terms of reminding everyone about the value of play in matters of teaching and learning.  Based on the snowball fight alone, The Center looks forward to continuing to play with every member of our community interested in teaching and learning.  We are also excited to see what happens as we continue to play with the ways we welcome, embrace, and support that same community.

(Photos courtesy of Derrick Willard)

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