Well, I packed my bags and hit the road! As I drove from Raleigh to Cullowhee for NCCAT (North Carolina Center for Advancement in Teaching), my mind was racing and I thought… “Oh boy, what did I get myself into?” My Kenan Fellows Program journey took me to NCCAT for our first Professional Advancement Institute. I had my program for the week in my hand and I knew I would be be meeting fellow educators in my fellowship class, but beyond that… I arrived with anticipation and curiosity for the week long adventure.
The week was full of meeting new people, attending different professional development sessions, and delicious food. My NCCAT experience was unlike any PD opportunity that I have ever attended. It was led by teachers who were currently in the classroom, at many times it was driven by us, and it allowed us ample time to network. Although each session brought a new insight and inspired me to try something new this upcoming year, the highlight of the week was meeting my fellow educators. They had so much experience, insight, and ideas to share with me. I was in awe with their passion and expertise in their own craft.
I think the sessions that I found most useful were the Project Based Learning (PBL) sessions. I know that I will be implementing many of the ideas shared during these sessions. I have been grappling with the idea of PBL in a math class and have had few reservations. However, my fellow colleagues were indispensable in helping me brainstorm around these obstacles. For example, one of the main hitches that I have been struggling with are how to ensure that students are learning some of the more difficult math skills. Not all students are able to learn a math skill on their own. I had brainstormed the idea of providing my students with a resource page where they could turn to in order to find videos with the necessary skills, but this still wasn’t the “end all cure all solution” in my mind. However, some of my colleagues who have more experience in PBL suggested that I hold “workshops” or “trainings” on these more difficult skills. They just need to be organic throughout the project. Although these “workshops” aren’t what you immediately think of when you imagine the PBL Gold Standard, they are still authentic to what students may encounter in their future workplace. I can’t wait to try it out this new school year!
Unfortunately, there was one session that I did not find very helpful – “Why Culture Matters.” The presenter was very knowledgeable; however, I did not feel as though I walked away with new knowledge that I could easily apply to my classes.
Thank you to all the presenters, Kenan Fellow Alumni, Kenan Fellow Staff, and my fellow Kenan Fellow Class of 2016-2017 for making NCCAT an incredible experience!