Over the past four years, the central PL team has found that one of the best ways for educators to see personalized learning firsthand, grow professional networks, and be inspired to innovate within their own learning spaces is by going beyond their school walls and participating in learning excursions. Destinations like Denver, Colorado provide the perfect opportunity to learn more about the successes and struggles of districts and charter networks transforming education to better meet the needs of students with a more personalized and innovative approach.
The central PL team recently traveled with campus leaders from two district high schools, as well as teachers participating in the current cohort of the Innovation in Teaching and Learning Fellowship, a 10-month teaching fellowship rooted in user-centered design to re-imagine how we educate every kid in Dallas ISD. Over the course of two days, our educators connected with students, teachers, and leaders at schools, visited classrooms and advisories, asking questions and reflecting on their own practice along the way.
After her time visiting schools in Denver, Amanda Jones, an Innovation in Teaching Fellow from Bryan Adams High School, was inspired by how “an ordinary school day can be transformed when leaders rethink all that’s possible within an ordinary school with ordinary time constraints and strive to redesign existing school structures to offer truly extraordinary experiences for students.” Amanda was energized and committed to exploring how she structures time in her classroom in order to build stronger relationships with her students.
Heather Houston, a Fellow from Rosemont Elementary could not wait until she got back to Dallas to implement more flexible seating after her visits, literally. Using an app for buying and selling furniture, Heather’s classroom became instantly more flexible before she even got home. Visits can also reaffirm what is working well within your learning space.
Jose Delgado, a Fellow from Bryan Adams High School, felt refreshed after seeing advisory models in place that help support students and work towards skills beyond a typical curriculum in action, a practice his campus is currently implementing. Richard Kastl, Principal of Bryan Adams High School, was committed to continuing building capacity with teachers around their use of blended learning strategies in the classroom.
Fellows and campus leaders campout for the afternoon at Lone Tree Elementary in Lone Tree, Colorado outside of Denver (Back Row: Vanessa Roper - Kiest Elementary, Alexander Vela - Umphrey Lee Elementary, Courtney Rogers - PL Central Team, Carmen Sanchez - Salazar Elementary, Nicolette Luna - Salazar Elementary, Yoely Alfano - Salazar Elementary. Front Row: Kristen Watkins, Director of Personalized Learning, Krystal Sanchez - Rosemont Elementary, Heather Houston - Rosemont Elementary, Nicole Bixby - Salazar Elementary, Tia Fuentes - Salazar Elementary, Matthew Hight - Joe May Elementary)
Interested in planning a learning excursion, but not sure where to start? Whether it is down the road or across the country, here are some things we consider before takeoff -
Plan with purpose