How East Lawrence HS Adopted Optional Monday Attendance for All Students
September 19, 2016
When it comes to school improvement, we often hear about "out of the box" thinking. But what does that really look like? Here's a powerful example shared by former instructional partner Casey Tate, now vice principal at East Lawrence High School. In January 2016, ELHS began optional attendance on Mondays for all non-trade students in grades 9-12. Here's how iLearning Monday came about and what's happened since.
By Casey Tate
Last fall, during a professional development meeting to discuss our school's assessed needs, we were urged by Dr. Scott Mohon with the ALSDE to "think outside the box" in our search for solutions.
At that gathering, held in a church fellowship hall, our team talked and brainstormed extensively – so much so that, as we now joke, the deacons and elders began stacking the chairs and tables to remind us it was time to leave.
Out of that deep discussion was born iLearning Monday
, an idea that ignited both a spark of hope and a ripple of fear in our eyes. But first some background.Read More
Opening Ourselves to New Thinking in a Circle of Trust
September 7, 2016
by Cheryl Lockhart
There is something about sitting in a circle with a small group of people that can feel intimate. Recently, I had that experience at ABPC's Mindful Facilitator Institute held at Children’s Harbor on Lake Martin in Alexander City, Alabama.
We were participating in a fish bowl discussion where questions are posed and conversation occurs among an "inner circle" of people, while other colleagues sit in an outer ring, listening closely to what is being talked about.
It was the last activity of a very busy day of learning. Our fish bowl discourse was based on some reading we had previously done about our individual established beliefs and how we might allow ourselves to be open to new thinking that could be very different from what we currently think or believe.
As I sat in the outer ring, one participant in the circle mentioned that we all come together for these professional learning experiences with a personal suitcase filled with our own experiences, troubles, challenges, hopes, and dreams.
The content of my suitcase does not match the suitcase of any other person in the room. We are all very different. However, those differences need to be valued in a way that allows each of us to feel safe enough to share what's inside our personal carrying case.
(Read on to learn about 5th grader Jane and the circle of trust.)Read More
Inside the Mindful Facilitator Institute
August 30, 2016
By Alyson Carpenter, NBCT
Professional Learning Specialist
Athens City (AL) Schools
Through 12 years of trial and error, I have learned that when you put on the hat of “teacher facilitator,” there is always a chance your eyes might be covered by the brim!
This must also be true for other facilitators as, unfortunately, most educators have attended some pretty horrible professional development sessions during our careers, and I’m quite sure no one actually sets out to kill us using a dull PowerPoint.
Last week, during the Mindful Facilitator Institute (MFI) hosted by the Alabama Best Practices Center (ABPC), we worked both individually and collectively to push our hats back so our eyes could be uncovered in order to truly “see” ourselves as facilitators. (Here's the agenda
Keep reading to find out more about the MFI experience!