Last week Tara, Jeff and I had our second opportunity of the year to organize and facilitate an elementary faculty meeting. We absolutely love having this dedicated time with our colleagues to help build a deeper understanding of 21st century literacy at ISB and to share practical examples of authentic use of technology here in our elementary classrooms.

As always, our goal was to continue building a collaborative community, to develop connections among faculty at different grade levels, and to allow teachers to have time to network and share ideas. Thanks to @FrznGuru (Rebecca), we had a great way to structure that experience: SpeedGeeking!

Basically, SpeedGeeking is just like Speed Dating – a way to quickly introduce people to a wide variety of new ideas in a short amount of time. Since we have a large faculty – over 70 teachers – we knew this would have to be a very organized and structured experience, otherwise it would drift into chaos.

We decided to have 12 four-minute SpeedGeeking sessions split into 2 groups (one group has six sessions, the other group has the other six sessions). This way, we could make the most of our limited time, enable as many teachers to share their successful experiences as possible, keep the group sizes limited, and ensure that not every teacher saw the exact same sessions (so they are encouraged to keep talking about what they saw after the meeting).

We also made sure that we organized the SpeedGeeking groups in advance, so they could move from table to table together and were mixed between two different grade levels. This way we had half of one grade level viewing one set of SpeedGeeking sessions and the other half viewing the other set (to encourage further conversation). We were careful to match up the sessions on each side so that each group had a session on podcasting, portfolios, VoiceThread, SmartBoards, and 2 sessions on our ETC wrap-up.

As usual, we posted our agenda online (and e-mailed the link the day before) so that teachers could know what to expect before arriving, and so that all of the work that was shared in the sessions could be accessed at any point before or after the meeting (if available online).

In order to create a positive environment, we started the meeting off with this quote:

Unfortunately, we actually lost power due to a major storm right before the meeting so we weren’t able to project the image. Thankfully, everyone had their laptops, so they could follow along with us via the agenda.

Next we transitioned into our SpeedGeeking experience. We had two large rectangles made up of 6 tables each on either side of the room. Each table was numbered and had a specific group of teachers (linked on the agenda) selected to start there. Once one 4-minute SpeedGeeking session was finished, the group of teachers seated together at their first table moved together to the next numbered table in line.

Here’s what each SpeedGeeking session was about:

Circle One:
1. Chrissy: ePortfolios using VoiceThread
2. Siri: SmartBoards
3. EARCOS: Diane
4. EARCOS: Peach
5. Susi: Class Wiki
6. Robin & Ali: Robin’s Class Blog,Ali’s Class Blog, (planning document, Podcasting Power)

Circle Two:
1. Brian: SmartFolios
2. EARCOS: Mary
3. Vince: GarageBand
4. Rebecca: Sprouting Seeds VoiceThread
5. James: Class Wiki
6. EARCOS: Jim

We used Jeff’s iPhone timer to clock each session and had a cute cow-bell sound to signify the end of each session (found on Free Sound, my new favorite place for Creative Commons licensed sounds). Thankfully my laptop was fully charged and Jeff had his laptop-powered speakers so we basically did the whole 30 minute SpeedGeeking session in the dark!

Once we finished SpeedGeeking, we asked teachers to discuss at their tables anything that sparked their interest for about 3 minutes, and then had tables share back to the larger group (if they wanted to).

The buzz in the room was amazing! Teachers were visibly excited and energized by the discussion and it was obvious that everyone found at least one thing that sparked their interest in the 30-minute session.

Finally, we wanted to end on a light-hearted note, and thankfully the power came back on just in time, so we watched the video Everything is Amazing, Nobody’s Happy (sorry, embedding is disabled, you’ll have to click on the link to watch). Of course, the video was a hit.

When we ended the meeting, I was encouraged to see just how many teachers stayed afterward discussing the ideas they had heard, asked us for assistance in trying something new, or just stopped by to say how successful the meeting had been.

This is the second time we’ve organized a sharing meeting like this for our faculty, and although both have gone well, this one was the better by far! Here’s why I liked it:

  • Because we had so many groups, we were able to highlight so many teachers – we made sure to have some specialists present, as well as some teachers who had never worked with technology in their classroom before this year.
  • We enabled teachers to interact with others outside of their grade level. It’s amazing how rarely teachers get the opportunity to just talk with teachers outside of their team.
  • We focused on the positive, on the commonalities among our colleagues, on the successes that we all have in our classrooms every day. Sure, we can all be doing things better, but that doesn’t mean that amazing things aren’t happening already.
  • We empowered others who are not normally highlighted and we helped build networks and infrastructure for supporting teachers who may need assistance.
  • We laughed, a lot, together. How often can you say that about a faculty meeting?

And, what I loved the most about this meeting is that I never, ever could have organized it by myself. It was the power of the team: Jeff, Tara and Kim, that made this meeting so successful. Without Tara, we could have forgotten how important it is to make people feel comfortable, supported and appreciated. Without Jeff, we could have forgotten about the fun and the levity and the big picture. Without me, it might not have been quite so organized and smooth. Man, I love my team!

How have you helped share successes in your school? What should we do for our next faculty meeting (assuming we’ll be asked to organize another one in the future)?

Teaching is Not Rocket Science by shareski

41 thoughts on “Take Your Faculty SpeedGeeking!

  1. What an innovative way to do a faculty meeting on technology integration! I love the Speed Geeking idea. I was part of two of our faculty inservice sessions this year where the teachers signed up for break out sessions like when you attend a conference. We surveyed the faculty to find out what they wanted to learn, planned our presentations, and then had them sign up ahead of time for the sessions they wanted to attend. I presented during four of the six time slots so I was able to attend two sessions. Our feedback was positively overwhelming. Many commented that it was the best inservice they had ever attended.

    I am sending this post to my principal and the head of our school district’s technology department. Thanks for sharing all of your resources.

  2. I love, love, love this idea!!! I love your blog Kim. Thanks for taking the time to re-tell your successes and trials here. I’m learning so much through your experiences.

  3. @Paula,

    I love the idea of doing a mini conference during faculty meeting PD time! We may have to try that one next :) Thank you!

    @Brenda,

    Thank you! So glad the posts are helpful!

  4. I have used so many of your ideas…the anecdote for the disengaged student AND teacher.
    Thanks.

  5. Thanks Kim,
    Inspirational and very practical as always. It’s a great idea to keep people moving quickly between sessions and learn from each other. Too often we are sat down and talked at for too long with no room for discussion. I too will share this with our executive.
    Thank you.

  6. What an awesome idea. I like how the grade levels were mixed and that teachers were given opportunities to present instead of just the Tech Facilitator or a hired presenter. I’m going to bring this idea to my school to encourage teachers to share what they are passionate about. I also think this would be a great strategy to use with students. Thanks for a wonderful post.

  7. You are a ROCK STAR!! You have such innovative and enrgizing ideas. I really envy your faculty having access to such creativity and enthusiasm. Thanks so much for sharing all you do. I am thinking about doing this as a back to school activity in August. It seems to me it can’t help but create positive energy and fire people up.
    So grateful for all you do!!!

  8. This is a great way for “too busy” teachers to weed through the many tech apps and get specifically to something they will either feel comfortable with or that is “just what I was looking for.” Giving the selections, but also basics shows just how easy and beneficial technology can be. Thanks for the ideas and you can believe i’ll try to pitch the idea ASAP.

  9. What a great idea for inservice! Very good idea, I am going to try to implement this in our district.

  10. this is an amazing idea, i am a elem. principal and would love to bring a session like this to our faculty!

  11. @Jane,

    Thanks for letting me know! I’m so glad they’re useful!

    @Andrew,

    I totally agree about often having no room for discussion. One of the things we keep trying to do is just provide time for teachers to talk. It’s amazing how much you can get out of just a short conversation with a colleague – especially someone you don’t directly work with every day.

    @Michelle,

    I agree, it’s so much more meaningful when the presenters are teacher colleagues instead of specialists or people from outside the school. Now you’ve got me thinking about how I could use this with students too! Thanks!

    @Nancy,

    Thank you! I think this would be a great activity for back to school! You could have people share their successes from the previous year and then explain how they would modify/improve/add on to those ideas to make them even better. You would really kick start the energy level for the year!

    @William

    Time savers are always appreciated :) It was really great that we could cover so many things in such a short session. I’m sure we’ll end up doing something like this again.

    @Phil,

    Thanks! I hope it works for you too!

    @Lyn,

    It was nice and easy for us to plan this – I’m sure your elementary faculty would really appreciate the time to share and learn together!

  12. I would be very excited to work in an environment where the teachers wanted to learn as much as the ones at your school. However, it’s not the case where I am. I’m realizing that I have to start small, pick a few people to have success with and then show others the things we are doing. Hopefully, that will engage more the staff into a more collaborative mindset. “Thankfully, everyone had their laptops” –a phrase I doubt I will hear at my school for quite a while. This sounded like a great experience.

  13. Thanks for sharing the SpeedGeeking idea. I think it would go over well with our staff, and it’s important to never take yourself too seriously, so I even love the name!
    Was noise an issue? We only have a lab that we could try it in, but I think it would go over really well.

    Janice

  14. @Chad,

    We are certainly lucky to have such motivated and engaged teachers. I would say it’s the norm in most international schools. However, I totally agree with the starting small approach and letting others see classroom teachers have success with technology. The more you can do to promote others, the more interest you will generate with teachers.

    @Janice,

    I totally agree! A little bit of humor in a staff meeting goes a long way! It was a bit noisy, but not too bad. We thought the space would be too small, but it worked out pretty well – so I guess that means people were responsible with the volume of their talking. I hope it works well for you too!

  15. Can’t wait to try speedgeeking! Thanks so much for your wonderful blog!

  16. I have to do a staff workshop next week with elementary to reflect on the year. I’m thinking of using a variety of tools to to do that e.g. wall wisher, audio recorder, wordle, etc. I like this format. Thinking of how to adapt.

    1. @Damianne

      Good luck! I think the real highlight for teachers was hearing from other colleagues. I hope it works well for you too!

  17. Thanks so much for sharing this idea. I use speed dating as a facilitation tool but haven’t tried it in a geek sense! Just want to check on the process you used once teachers were in their group. Let’s say Circle 1, round 1. Do all get a turn to present or is it one teacher that presents. If it is one teacher does that teacher stay at the table or move through? Presumably the laptops are set up and stay at each desk. Does this mean that as teachers move the first thing they do is access the document? Can you give me just a little more detail about this?

    1. @Cheryl,

      The way we used it, in Circle 1, Round 1 only one teacher presented to the small group. That teacher was asked in advance to be prepared to say a little something (nothing formal, but we didn’t want them to be put on the spot). If the discussion moved to other teachers sharing, that was fine, but not expected. The one teacher stayed at their table and the rest of the group moved on to the next table. Each teacher has their own laptop. There is no document to access, the teacher presenting stayed at their table (with their own laptop) and did a demo on the laptop screen that the other teachers at the table could see. Hope that helps!

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