Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Smackdowns: Powerful professional learning

Powerful professional learning

According to blogger a punch of professional development, smackdowns are:
… Small punches of information where tips, trick, ideas and wonderings are shared. In many cases a Google Presentation is set up and people are invited to create a slide prior to the event, when the event occurs participants must be prepared to get up in front of the audience and share their slide/knowledge.

 Another source states:
A "Smackdown," during which any willing participant takes the floor for 30 seconds to share an idea, tool, or tip with the crowd. There's typically music, laughing, and cheering as folks try to condense their learning into such a small time frame.  (Scherer, 2016)
I can attest to the notion of laughing and cheering when using this ingenious professional learning activity. Let me explain. Last week our e-learning team leader initiated a smackdown as part of our professional learning day. The email invite read:

A small number of teachers obliged by adding a slide and then a few days later another invite from our e-learning team leader read:

 This email invite convinced the more “humble” teachers and many more slides were added.
In my experience teachers are not only humble but they are also nervous to share their expertise, hence the laughing as they begin their presentation with some form of nervous admission. Our time limit was 2 minutes so it didn’t seem too daunting.
The following is a sample of the GEMS that were shared:

Pocket for curating article links

 A year 6 teacher developed this well-being survey for her students:

Coding in the preschool:

 Online learning in science

 Making a lithophane

Word Art for design

Animales for language development

Using twitter for professional learning

After each teacher shared their GEM we all clapped and offered thanks and appreciation for these new insights.
This half hour of professional learning was exceptionally valuable for the following reasons:
·      It highlighted the fact that all teachers were experts
·      The tools were already considered valuable for learners therefore safe to apply
·      The tools were shared across the whole school – preschool through to year 8
·      The tools were all shared within a specific, authentic learning context
·      The presentations often triggered questions and rich conversation
·      It builds community by reinforcing our culture of relational trust and showing gratitude to each other
·      It was empowering for all teachers
·      We instantly came away with a new tool to enhance learning
·      It is low cost

For the above reasons, I am convinced smackdowns should be a valued and well-utilised form of teacher professional learning in all schools.

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