To understand her work, she organized our two days as she expects teachers to do for their students. We were engaged in workshop. We had learning targets, in easily accessible I Can statements with assessments we would be doing linked to each one. She shared and clearly understands her own Foundational Beliefs/Big Ideas. If we understand our own foundational beliefs then we are able to make sound decisions and hold true to ourselves in the daily work we do. Her workshops are organized in this cycle and so was our time together. Workshop begins with an opening, a mini lesson, worktime, a catch and release during the worktime, and a debrief.
Samantha is positive, bouncy, energetic and radiated the entire room with her smile. We all need a Samantha Bennett in our room. She coaches teachers and listens to kids. She tried to figure out how the magic happens. I just love this quote from her, "learning equals good teaching." She encouraged us to think of our rooms as a science laboratory. She says a high school chemistry class all the way down to kindergarten can use this same framework!
More thoughts include: children need to be working fifty percent of the time, students always need a purpose and an audience, we have to get smarter together, no matter how good you are you can get better, we need to be thoughtful of the little things, ownership is a vehicle for choice, and allow choice that is manageable for you. Most of our second day together was spent thinking about planning and how you can't do workshop without planning very well. Samantha really empowered people to plan ahead asking us to think about what will the children be doing in workshop and not what am I doing. She brought in backwards design and formative assessment, all essential to help our students gain a year.
I'm thrilled to have spent these two days thinking and reflecting around the workshop format. I'm going to hold two things at the front of my future thinking. The first, is children need to create. The second is having children hold their thinking each workshop. They can do this by creating. If you create to hold thinking then you are actively engaged more with the process of learning. I'm glad it happened now and will help guide my thinking immediately but more so for next year. My friends Katie and Karen have or will be sharing more about their experience being coached by Samantha. Not only was I inspired mentally by Samantha but I hope to find a little of her cute fashion sense as I shop for spring, she is just so cute.