The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Presenting to Colleagues

Today was my school district’s annual Winter Institute, a one-day event in which staff from all levels come together to participate in professional development workshops. Sometimes we have a presenter who has been brought in to speak to everyone in the district or all of the EC-5 teachers, sometimes we have a bunch of different workshop sessions, and sometimes we have a mix. This year was a workshop sessions year and, as one of the grade-level leaders in the district and also a member of the technology cadre, the technology-enhanced learning environments task force, the the model content framework for English/language arts task force, I was invited to propose a session. Looking at the suggestions, I offered to lead a workshop on guided math groups, something I began experimenting with a couple of years ago and have fully implemented this year.

The proposal was accepted and so I found myself presenting to colleagues from across the district this morning. I didn’t have a large group of teachers come to my session, and two of them were colleagues from my own building, but I enjoyed the opportunity to share some of what I have been doing with others and inviting them to try it out in their own rooms. I focused my presentation on the time management and organisation side of guided math instruction because the instructional content varies widely from grade to grade. (For myself, I rely heaving on many on the online learning tools that we use and refer to my grade level math standards to monitor progress. I don’t use a specific formal curriculum because I am not satisfied with the print resources I currently have, although I am definitely moving toward using the EngageNY materials that are available online.)

I honestly have no idea what the teachers in my session really thought about using a guided math approach, although I hope that they will at least be willing to try it out. I have found that guided math lets me work with small groups of students in a setting that lets them grow as they learn and I feel that our math time is much more effective than if I were to just present one lesson to the whole class. We still have bumps along the way, such as students not working independently the entire time or students who are needing extra support from a teacher who is also trying to work with a small group, but I think it is definitely a structure or framework that I will continue to use with my class.

I think I am also finally getting used to presenting to my colleagues. I am super comfortable teaching a large group of students and I am usually comfortable talking to a large diverse group of adults, but I get really nervous talking to groups of teachers because they are my colleagues and many of them probably know more than me anyway. But I didn’t feel that way this time. I felt like I was sharing what I have done because I am proud of the outcome and I wanted them to know more about it.

How has it gone when you’ve presented to your colleagues at work?

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