by Mark Jarvis
Over the last 4 years, faculty development has been in a constant state of growth and change. We have seen some amazing things happening in the classroom and around the water cooler. Of all the advancements, one thing seems to flow over with added value, and that is, simply SHOP TALK.
Teaching can be a solitary activity, which seems peculiar when considering that it’s done in a classroom full of students. What can happen, however, is that we are so wrapped up in our own instruction that we seldom get the chance to see what others are doing. We are hard pressed to even catch a few minutes to visit about anything, let alone our philosophies of education.
That is where Summer Jam Practicum Huddles come in. Through this venue, we come together in small groups for conversations about work–shop talk–every other week. We have orchestrated dialogues over assigned readings and best practices, but we also get to share from the heart, learn from each other, and grow together.
A former participant put it like this: “First and foremost, I am a better teacher because of huddles. I have learned so many different teaching strategies to implement in my own classroom. It is very different to sit in a huddle versus going to a class on one strategy or another. In a huddle, you hear and see it in action week after week. You get first hand experiences and have time to digest how it worked for someone else and how it could work for you! I have loved all the new strategies for engagement I have implemented this semester. Secondly, you realize that everyone fails! Yep, everyone fails! Everyone has bad days, bad students, bad experiences, bad ideas! And you know what, we all still LOVE our jobs. You realize that failure is okay. Failure is even good. You learn from it. You rearrange and restructure because of it. You improve! I am not nearly as afraid as I used to be of falling flat on my face! I’m in great company, and our failures only make us better. If you never try anything new, you never grow. I am growing more this semester than I have in the past decade as a teacher.”
This started to blossom with Huddles, but it’s now growing all over the institution. We are even having conversations with our students about learning–imagine that! We are becoming ever-more intentional about how learning happens, and how teachers can facilitate that learning, but we are also equipping our students with meta-cognitive approaches that help them help themselves.
This shop talk is priceless, and its been a dividend I did not foresee when planning our faculty development programming.
Sometimes you don’t even know where things are going to go, you simply need to get out of the way and let them happen!