My summer camp position is a really interesting one. You can find me …
- stuffing hamburgers and hot dogs;
- signing for food orders;
- setting up tech equipment in the gym;
- completing and uploading the daily slideshows;
- sitting down with a child in the hallway, in the library, or in the classroom, who may just need some extra time or additional support;
- documenting learning around the school;
- planning for PD sessions;
- and/or working with instructors and kids.
In different ways and for different reasons, I love each and every one of these jobs … despite a few texture and scent issues. 🙂
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) August 2, 2018
Stuffing 100 hotdogs is much less problematic for me than hamburgers. Better smell and texture. I’m a sensitive type! 🙂 Kids love them, & we are grateful for the @HWDSBCampPower lunches! Healthy food that give kids energy for the afternoon! pic.twitter.com/HWZVHqjt0N
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) August 9, 2018
That said, without a doubt, my time spent in the classroom continues to be my favourite! I had a very special — and unexpected — moment today thanks to this time. And surprisingly, this moment didn’t happen in the classroom, but instead, at our after camp PD session.
We meet twice a week after camp for professional development, and today, we were discussing documentation. As part of this session, I asked every instructor to bring along a piece of documentation to discuss. The goal was to look closely at this documentation, talk about the child, and try to determine some possible next steps together.
Camp is not just for student learning, but also educator learning. Here are a group of instructors discussing documentation and talking about possible next steps. Planning with the child in mind. Even stayed way past the end of the day to plan! ❤️ #theyrock pic.twitter.com/lx2Nntf1yt
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) August 14, 2018
As I listened in on these conversations today, a couple of people spoke about things that they’ve tried in the classroom. Here’s what surprised me.
- One instructor mentioned using an alphabet chart with one of the campers, after she saw me introduce this strategy to him. She said that this child was starting to use it independently, and now she’s using the chart with another camper.
- Another instructor mentioned that she saw what I did with the alphabet chart — and this would have been through Twitter — and she decided to try it with one of her campers. It worked!
The amazing thing about both of these points is that in neither case did I actually directly talk to the instructors about this strategy. By going into the classroom and working with kids alongside the instructors, they were able to see this strategy in action. They were able to see and hear how children responded, and then figure out, what might work for them. Also, by using social media and sharing what I did in different classrooms, other instructors were able to implement similar approaches that might work for their campers. I think about what Lisa Noble has said before about visual learning, and the value in educators, consultants, and administrators, sharing their thinking and learning visibly.
I’m not an expert here. For 10 months of the year, I happily get to live and breathe the classroom experience, and it’s this experience that I bring into my Camp Power role. I can’t help but think about the some staff members that I’ve worked with in a school setting over the years, including,
- curriculum consultants,
- Early Years consultants,
- instructional coaches,
- learning resource teachers,
- and reading specialist teachers,
and how I’ve often hoped to have these individuals pull out students or provide me with PD in-services. Maybe there was something better — something more — that I could have looked for instead. What if we worked together in the classroom to support students? Could the best professional development happen when we actually work alongside each other? I can’t help but think about how we use documentation in the classroom for kids, and the benefits of observing children closely, and using these observations to plan next steps. Maybe when we work in the same space, together, educators do the same thing, and figure out new approaches and how to use them based on what they see and hear. Might a “sneaky approach” to professional development actually be the most effective one?