Staff Breakout EDU

Finally! I have been trying to introduce my site to Breakout EDU for quite a while now. I have been working with my principal for over 6 months on finding a time that works best. Yesterday was the day!

Over Spring Break my principal emailed and asked if it would be doable to host a breakout at our next meeting. I was thrilled! Yes, totally doable and I knew exactly which game I wanted to use: Faculty Meeting.IMG_5325

Since I have five Breakout boxes (one official and four self-created) I was able to split the teachers into manageable groups of 4 or 5. In addition, my class has done several and were able to help me set up for the teachers. I even had 2 student volunteers who stayed to help out. It was rough starting. Many of the teachers weren’t sure how to approach this. It’s so different from what is done in classrooms. This was a very different experience than when I first introduced it to my students (NOTE: I’ve been doing breakouts for 1 1/2 years with students). My students dive right in; sometimes trying out codes on locks without any clues – they get reminders that they need to solve clues to get the codes. But after a few minutes, all the teams were busily working on codes. Some teams were precise in their work, while others were a little less reserved.

IMG_5324In the end, all teams broke out. Several teachers commented what fun it was and how they had to think outside the box to solve the clues. Which is the point; think outside of the box to break into the box!

What was really fun to watch was the Kinder team work together – they choose to sit as a group. They work really well together and are like a well-oiled machine. It definitely showed in the end. That’s not to say the other teams didn’t work well together because they did. Something about seeing the Kinder teachers who eat lunch together, collaborate daily, and constantly communicate work through the Breakout was fun.

img_0534.jpgIn the end, we talked about how it can be used in the classroom and it was revealed that our principal purchased 2 kits for our site. There were a few who said they were going to check out the Breakout EDU website for games and information. One Kinder teacher wants to try it, with my help. What an awesome experience! Can’t wait for those kits to arrive.

Thank you to KCAM principal, staff, and students for allowing me to share the Breakout fun with you!

Too Much PD?

Is there such a thing as too much PD?

This is something that I have been contemplating. The past few years my district has had teachers participate in weekly PD. In the beginning, this was welcome as not only did we want it, we felt that we needed it. However this current year, I am beginning to ask if there really is too much of a good thing.

How much is too much?

Each week I am asked to participate in 90 minutes ‘collaboration’ time. To me, collaboration is organic, exciting, desired, and teacher-driven. However, when teachers are told what to do, what to discuss, and have someone watching/listening it begins to feel less like collaboration and more like a mandatory meeting. And no one likes long meetings. Then there are the 2.5-hour meetings/PD each month, plus 1.5-hours meetings/PD each month, AND 1/2 hour meetings/PD TWICE per month. This makes a grand total of 12.5 hours of meeting/PD per month. No wait, I forgot the 1.5 hours per month of math PD. So that makes 14 hours of meeting/PD per month. And none of it is teacher-driven.

So what’s the result?

Before I sat down to figure all this out, I had no idea I was getting this much each month. Some of this comes at the expense of face-time with students – a grand total of 8 hours during the regular school day. Times that by the 9 months this occurs, that’s 72 HOURS of lost face-time with my students. Wow!

In addition to the lost face-time, I fear that we are beginning to experience overload. I fear that many teachers have begun tuning out some of the good messages and practices that are being shared. I know I have. Many teachers have begun to dread the monthly 2.5-hour meeting/PD. I don’t find the math PD useful. In fact, watching an hour lesson in which the students FINALLY get to talk after 33 minutes is a bit much, even for me (I love math!). And their actual interaction with other students lasts less than 8 min in that hour.

When can I put it into practice?

If I am missing 8 hours with my students – this doesn’t include the 3 hours that my class must attend First Tee each month – when can I put what I’m learning into practice? I’m honestly not sure. I sure hope I get to do so soon.

What to do?

Honestly, I’m not sure. In and of themselves, each item is worthy. Combined, it’s proving to be a deadly combination. I am hoping that my district reevaluates some of this. Honestly, I think the monthly 2.5-hour meeting/PD needs to go. Remember sitting in those 3-hour classes in college and you were done after about an hour. Yeah, these give you that same feeling. I’m also hoping that the district asks the teachers which ones they find most valuable. Sticking with the top 2 will result in better teaching practices.