Along with the bumper stickers, this year we asked the teachers to write in 25 words or less, why they thought the project “through a different lens” is different than anything else they have been involved in … There were too many to write here, but here is a sampling of the different ideas:
I think the “Through a Different Lens” project allows you to examine your teaching style, broaden your teaching and assessment strategies, and enables you to learn from your colleagues. I think it forces you to do something different (change is good) and ultimately makes you a better teacher.
Sometimes feel as though I am the only one who struggles to come up with strategies and ideas of how to engage and connect with kids. When we go into the sessions I feel part of a “team” that has a wealth of knowledge and experience. I always leave with ideas of simple things to try with kids and with more energy to do it. I feel engaged and willing to try new things and experiment in my classroom.
This project involves collaboration with other teachers (which doesn’t happen as often at the high school level) and support from facilitators. The exchange of ideas is priceless and there is a high level of commitment to reflect and to continue whether or not you are successful. I think that the connections that the teachers at our school are making with the students are life changing!
Because it is a consistent, reoccurring event it provides sustainability to my practice - it makes my practice current, engaging and excites me.
This project also helped me see that sometimes “success” is not just defined by marks or credits or grad rates. Sometimes keeping students in the building and making them feel valued as human beings is true success. Not all teachers (or administrators) agree with this, but the people in the TADL project do!
TADL allows me to develop my practice without defining (limiting me to) one strategy or program while ensuring a focus on student learning. The focus on one learner (who I chose as at-risk in my class) ensures accountability to myself - and will also ensure an impact on my entire class.
Focussing on at risk students but the strategies used work for the majority of learners. The inter-disciplinary sharing is invaluable.
The Different Lens project truly pushes me to reflect on who my students are in the class and what I have tried (specific strategies) to try and improve the success of those students. I must then carefully evaluate the actual result of the changes I have made (for specific students and the class as a whole). I have never been involved in any professional development that makes me reflect on the results of my practice in such depth.
This project has provided me with the moral support to keep working with our most difficult students. The importance of encouragement from a fellow staff member to “keep up the good fight” cannot be understated when sometimes we want to give up. There were numerous times this semester when I needed the support of others for ideas and to remind me that what I was doing was making a difference.