Ian Kelleher, Science Dept. Chair at St. Andrew’s Episcopal in Potomac sent me this and I think it is very worth sharing, with Ian’s approval. It is a template for a faculty poster conference, the second I have heard of on this trip (in addition to the big one next month with Albermarle County Public Schools teachers). Nearly every school I have visited has reported that teachers really don’t know what colleagues outside of their department or grade level are doing. Internal sharing of innovative practices is critical to percolation of good ideas. Perhaps your school will consider this format on a routine basis to leverage your collective brain power. Thanks, Ian!
Conference for Innovative Teaching Poster Session
Poster sessions have been a cornerstone of academic conferences in many disciplines for decades – but not education. And this is strange because it is a perfect forum to share, examine and reflect on the work we do. This event not only professionalizes our pedagogy, but it also encourages an informal, creative space and time for conversations among colleagues to happen. This event is a beacon and a forum. It inspires us to keep rigorously and enthusiastically addressing that fundamental question, “what is great teaching?”. More importantly, it leads us to make new connections and build working relationships that will prove to be more important than the posters themselves.
The poster session is currently organized into four topics, chosen to foster both interdisciplinary and cross-divisional dialogue: project-based learning, brain-based instruction, assessment, and multicultural education. We believe that these four topics stimulate a variety of pedagogical practices and styles. Teachers are encouraged to present something anywhere in scale from the very small to the very large: a single lesson, a teaching technique, a unit, a technology, a trip, even a theme that has informed their classroom all year. The guide we give is to share “that thing which you just know deep inside is great teaching.” Collaborative efforts are strongly encouraged. We actively work to make sure that all divisions of the school are included and supported through the process. The mandate is to give a teacher the intellectual freedom to fully explore and develop a single idea.
Why do it?
- Being given the freedom to fully explore and flesh out just a single idea turns out to be a very powerful, liberating experience.
- Subtly alters the way faculty members see themselves as professionals – helps master teachers see through their humility and reconcile with themselves that they are, in fact, master teachers.
- Inspires teachers to take risks and be creative in the pursuit of getting every child to think – it really illustrates ways where we meet our goal to challenge and support each individual learner.
- Create some good collaborations – particularly between disciplines and divisions.
- Inspires future work and collaborations.
- The event itself provides space and stimulation for great conversations about what is excellent teaching; this is an interesting idea in professional development which is less scripted but still powerful.
- Faculty get a snapshot of what is happening across the entire school; helps us know and respect each others work.
- The posters have an excellent second life highlighting things we are proud of on the walls of our school – give visitors a strong impression of what we do, how we do it, and why the St. Andrew’s learning experience is different.
- Presenters get identified as intellectual resources, which not only helps spread the wealth of knowledge, experience and talent in the faculty, but adds to job satisfaction.
- Increasing awareness of visual literacy and design.
- Forcing teachers to go through a process that we routinely set our students, and seeing how time and energy consuming it can be.