Friday, February 24, 2017
Fish are Friends...Not Food!!!
The best part, for me, of attending a conference for professional development is the invigorating energy that I receive from being around other dedicated educators. I love hearing about their passions and seeing innovative and unique practices and concepts from master practitioners. It is truly inspiring.
One of the frustrations that come with attending conferences is that I hear about great ideas, but I don't necessarily get to see these ideas in practice. While great conversations can be had, wouldn't it be cool if the learning wasn't limited to just talking about a new concept?
At every conference, I try to take back at least one diamond, one absolute gem that I can use to make me a better educator. While I have plenty of diamonds from the Lausanne Learning Institute Southwest held at The Oakridge School in Arlington, Texas, the largest gem that I received was the idea of a Fishbowl Session.
A Fishbowl Session is fascinating. A teacher leads a class of students utilizing an educational concept or practice that is at the core of the session. Meanwhile, an interested party of educators watch the implementation as the audience. After the execution of the lesson, the audience of educators reflect and debrief the lesson and educational concept or practice that was at the heart of the session with the leader.
This was the first time that I participated in this practice at any conference I have attended. It was awesome!
I attended three fishbowl sessions as an audience member. I had the opportunity to see master practitioners lead students in engaging and exciting activities. Now, these ideas weren't conceptual. The theory introduced in these sessions became real- and the debrief allowed me and my peers to ask targeted questions that would allow for ease of implementation in our own classrooms. We also received great feedback about potential obstacles and how these could be overcome in a variety of settings.
I, also, led a session on how I use an activity called "Google It" (click here to learn more about it) as a tool to teach vocabulary in my classroom. It was intimidating to deliver a lesson in front of my peers, in a foreign classroom, to a group of students that I had never met prior to my session! The students, of course, were amazing and fully engaged in the activity. They followed directions, asked great questions, collaborated appropriately and effectively, and truly represented themselves tremendously!
The debrief session with other educators was awesome, as well. I was able to explain how students utilized Google in my class to access vocabulary definitions and why this practice fit not only my pedagogy, but any educational setting. My peers asked questions that helped me reframe and think deeply about how I could tweak this activity to maximize student learning. It is rare to get this level of feedback and to collaborate with other educators in such a meaningful way.
The Fishbowl Session is a transformative method for executing a conference. I loved swimming in the fishbowl- and I learned tremendous lessons from this experience. I can't wait to bring this practice to my school and see how we can reconstruct this idea to fit our own professional learning.
Please leave comments if you have any questions or need further clarification of this awesome and exciting activity.
Check out my YouTube channel: Chaka Cummings (The Dedicated Educator). Also, find me on LinkedIn and check out some of my published posts on education.