What do we do in the summer?

During the week-long summer workshop, teachers participate in workshops and activities including:

Mindfulness Panel
Local leaders and experienced practitioners of mindfulness in education came to discuss the power of mindfulness in the classroom and offer advice on how to get a program started. Using a radical, democratizing 19 Questions Protocol to shape our time together, the panelists and teachers engaged in a conversation about not only why instructing students how to practice mindfulness is important to teaching the whole child, but also how to begin the process in the wide variety of settings and classrooms all over the city, public, private, and charter.

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Critical Friends Tuning Protocol
Seeking constructive feedback from your peers can be daunting. So much is exposed in the asking that, without assurances that the feedback will be constructive and objective, it can be easier sometimes not to ask, to instead keep instructional dilemmas to yourself, hope that they’ll work better next year with a different classroom of students and a little more experience under your belt. The National School Reform Center’s Tuning Protocol provides the structure for a generative, problem-solving conversation that seeks to support the teacher presenting a dilemma and asks the participants to examine their own instructional practice in manner that often leads to many discoveries flowing from the conversation. Four teachers from Cohort 1 volunteered to revisit the Cooperative summer workshop for the purposes of sitting in ‘the fishbowl’, practicing the use of the Tuning Protocol in front of an audience. After some Q & A and review of the protocol, the teachers spend the rest of the week practicing the use of the protocol in small groups, giving every teacher in the cooperative an opportunity to present and to facilitate.

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unconference
With so many amazing teachers in one place at the same time, there must be things they want to share and about which they want to ask questions or get more information from one another. How can we do that in a constructive manner without chaos or reliance on a power structure that makes sharing difficult? It’s called an unconference. It’s fun and engaging and often leads to some of the best conversations of the conference. This year we covered such wide-ranging topics as “Providing Effective Feedback to Our Students”, “Education Policy: Vouchers, Charters, Independents, and Zoned-Schools: What do we think, what do we do?”, “Generating Meaningful Conversations in our Classrooms”, “Equity, Social Justice, Multicultural Teaching”, “Creating Family Connections and Relationships”, and more. The conversations were electric and could have gone on for far longer than the time we had. Our monthly coffees will give us a chance to keep sharing, listening, and learning.

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Design Thinking
It’s tough to describe the process of using empathy-driven design thinking to solve problems, which is why we were very lucky to be led through the experience by local leaders in design thinking, stoke.d. Brent Taylor and Barbara Patchen visited USN for an afternoon tour-de-force through an entire design thinking model, complete with brainstorming music, role-playing, pipe cleaners, glue, tin foil, and a laser-sharp focus on guiding us through a new way of thinking through seemingly intractable problems. This may have been the most fun of the entire week. Stoke.d helped plant many seeds and we are eager to see how, when, and where green shoots pop up in classroom, faculty meetings, and team planning time in schools all over the city.