Workshop Recap~ OWL 1: Hopkinton, NH

OWL facilitator, Jaclyn, spent two awesome days at Hopkinton Middle-High School in Hopkinton, NH! Read her recap below 🙂

One of my favorite parts of my role with OWL is facilitating workshops. And even more-so, it’s working with teachers that continue to inspire me. Hopkinton is home to Michelle, who is basically my idol. Michelle is the epitome of a life long learner: she is always trying to better her practice, grow as a teacher, and create a community around her that also strives for these goals. Michelle (who has attended an OWL 1 workshop at least 3 times) brought OWL to her school so that all of the teachers at HMHS could be a part of a conversation of proficiency and student directed instruction.

Our two days of collaboration were so much fun. The teacher’s asked incredible questions and challenged each other and myself to think about our own classroom practices. This workshop also lent itself to four different opportunities for teachers to  practice running their own circles. Participants had fantastic transformations from their first circles to their fourth; insomuch that they were energized to go back to their classrooms and give it a try!

As this workshop came to end, I left feeling so excited for my new colleagues and their students. I also left with two major take aways:

  1. We don’t have all the answers, and that’s ok! The more I collaborate with teachers, the more I encounter the overwhelming sense that we teachers feel must know it all before we can even dip our toes into something new. Learning is messy. Whether it’s learning a new language or learning how to do a back flip, we make mistakes, take steps in the wrong direction, correct our errors, and try again in hopes of better results. We should give ourselves the same understanding and kindness when it comes to our classroom practice. Moving towards proficiency is a journey with one step forward and many times two steps back. But at the end of the day we’re giving our students opportunities to have real authentic conversations in the target language, and that’s what really matters.
  2. Empowerment is essential. Our students thrive off of the little things that we can forget to do with the hustle and bustle of class. Pointing out to our student who drives us crazy their positive contributions in class will lead to more positive contributions from said student. Reminding our student how smart and capable they are allows them to fit that mold. And most importantly, saying thank you to our classes for their effort and contributions allows our classroom to thrive off a culture of appreciation and mutual respect. But it is not just our students who need to be empowered: we do too! We are our biggest critics, we will tell our selves “we can’ts” and “yeah buts” and end up limiting ourselves time and time again. When we change our mindsets to “I’ll try” and “how can I” we’re opening the door to possibility of real change in ourselves and our classrooms. And if you need a reminder that you can do it, reach out! The uniqueness of the OWL community is the positive culture that rises all of us up. Ask your accountability buddy, a facilitator, or a internet colleague for good mojo. It will make your day and your journey a whole lot better!

I’m looking forward to continuing to collaborate with this fun group of teachers, and you can join us too! We’ll be having a follow up workshop, the OWL 2,  in April as well as East Coast Bootcamp this summer! This school, like Michelle, will be continuing to grow on their proficiency journey as the year continues!