Challenge Yourself with Professional Learning

I’ve just ended a fabulous five month professional development opportunity at The Dallas Museum of Art and The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, TX. It is one of those workshops that are so impactful it takes weeks to process and really get all the meaning through reflection. The facilitators were Magdalena Grohman, Associate Director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology at the University of Texas at Dallas, Lisa Dwinal, Professional Devleopment and Campus Based Partnerships Manager at The Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and Amanda Bake, Head of Family Access and School Experiences at the Dallas Museum of Art. I thank them all for their insights and leadership. Here is the link to the Teaching for Creativity Institute: http://www.perotmuseum.org/events-and-programs/school-programs/professional-development/professional-development.html#museum-workshops

This workshop was a partnership between the DMA and the Perot, starting at the DMA in the morning and finishing in the after at the Perot. I wanted to attend initially as I was searching for ways to develop more inquiry learning in my science classroom. Thankfully, my district paid for me to attend. I gave five Saturdays of my time and I’m getting so much in return. It was hard at times to teach all week and be tired on Saturday. However, I made myself get up and go. I was excited to go even though I was tired. I met other educators from high school to preschool, from public to private schooling and one gentlemen that wanted to attend to foster creativity in his workplace with new-hires. What a diverse group of individuals to learn from with our experiences through the workshops. My first take away is a general one that I want to share. It is so important to push yourself of out your comfort zone! I sat down on the morning of the first Saturday and was handed a sketch pad and pencil! What?! You want me to sketch?! I can’t sketch! I am not going to lie, I was thinking, “What did I get myself into? My district paid for this and I have to finish it….on my goodness….I can’t do this.” How many times in our lessons do you think our students think that? It’s not a bad thing by any means. We are challenging them and pushing their boundaries as we should. How often do you push yourself? During one of our activities, I literally sat in the floor of the DMA and “took in” a painting. I had to take twenty minutes to observe the painting, write my thoughts on my sketch pad about the painting, sketch the painting and then describe how I felt, how it smelled, what did I hear?…..How many times on an outing to a museum do we slow down and actually think this deeply about an exhibit?

A second take away is this: Are you teaching creatively or teaching for creativity? Think about that statement. If you teach and are concerned and reflective on your teaching practice you probably teach creatively. Are you fostering creativity in your students and encouraging questioning for deeper understanding? Wow, that hit me like a bag of bricks. I need to decipher that difference in my classroom. I learned so many practices and activities to use to foster creativity in my students and am so excited. I have tried one simple technique with success in my classroom already and have planned a change in my lessons for next year. I will post separately about each of those activities.

Professional learning is imperative to doing our best as teachers in the classroom and out. Share ideas, share lessons and ask others to share. Through collaboration, the best ideas are formed! I challenge you to try something out of your comfort zone and to push yourself as you push your students! As a science teacher this activity challenged me to evaluate two unlike art pieces to produce my own piece of art that could come from both the chosen pieces. I worked collaboratively with my group to design the art. A connection to science is how the offspring would look or what would be the phenotype of the offspring of the two pieces?

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This institute was challenging and exciting and made me see through many different perspectives. If you are in the area, I would definitely say attend the next set of workshops! If not, find a workshop or activity that challenges you! I found this opportunity by just looking at the events on The Perot website. It is amazing what you will find, when you start looking. The Comfort Zone is way overrated!

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2 thoughts on “Challenge Yourself with Professional Learning

  1. Great to read about your experience. Katie had art camp at DMA this past summer and described the same experience with having to “take in” the painting and sketch it. She wasn’t so moved. She just wanted to paint…haha! Glad you had such a wonderful experience with both places!

    1. Funny…. It was really great. I have a lot of good activities to use in class and for problem-solving.

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