This morning my alarm went off for the first time in 3 weeks, because in order to prep for my new job I have to go through Expeditionary Learning training, and it started today.
I loathe conferences. I despise "team-building" exercises. I cringe in fear at the mere mention of group work, or sharing out, or brainstorming.
And yet, I've been excited for this conference, because I'm excited about my new job and I want to be ready.
So @ 7:30 this morning I found myself eating a comped breakfast at the Hyatt Regency downtown. I have a room but since I live 2 miles away I'm allowing my roomie to have it all to himself. More than 90% of the participants are from New York, with only four of us from Baltimore and a sprinkling of Jersey, PA, and Ohioans.
We did all the things I typically dread, but for the first time ever at an educational professional development I felt I was learning valuable information. I got to experience the very model I'll be using next year, but from the student perspective. Now I'm jazzed with ideas and curiosity and I want to know how to build such a lesson. I met many cool and brilliant people, and felt priviliged to be a "local" who could offer advice on getting around town and what to see and where to eat to out-of-towners.
Here's how the main segment of the experience went today: We were shown an editorial cartoon from the 1870's or 1880's without context and we were asked to write down what we knew or thought we knew about it in our groups. After, we were provided with a packet of materials including visuals, graphs of figures, advertisements, personal correspondence, and academic articles from the same time frame as the cartoon. We had to each choose two documents and analyse/read/summarize them for our group members, and then write down what we had learned. Then we had to take everything a step further and write a summary statement about the Great Strike of 1877 and its causes. I thought it was fun, and think it will be fun to teach this way as well.
I just got an email from my new boss inviting me to a second institute offered next week in New England, involving science and wildlife experiences and arts integration. Unfortunately I don't think I can make it because of a certification test for middle school history. We'll see. Off now to do homework.