Leading One's Own Learning

I am very fortunate. Since working at DAA, I have participated in many educational conferences and professional development meetings to grow as an educator and bring the best educational practices back to DAA. However, none was as inspirational and transforming as Expeditionary Learning’s National Conference “Independence: Preparing Leaders of Their Own Learning”.  For three days in Boston, I had the privilege of learning from master teachers and school leaders who have been practicing EL for years. They led sessions on topics that were timely, interesting, and totally relevant for teaching and learning at DAA. As a result, I brought back an abundance of knowledge about best practices for helping our students become leaders of their own learning.

I attended wonderful sessions including: one about creating high quality learning targets to support students’ learning and give them something to work towards; and another that involved developing student-led Crews, where students took control and led the rest of the class! In other meetings, I learned about fostering relationships and confidence building; while I increased my understanding of administering and grading benchmark assessments, which will drive instruction. Another great session focused on writing standards-targets and assessments (STAs) to help guide our unit planning and ensure we design rigorous daily lessons.

In addition to attending these invaluable sessions, during which I learned more than I could have imagined, the amazing and talented Mrs. McMillan and I presented our own master class! Our session taught 27 teachers how to authentically and effectively integrate expedition content throughout the school day.  As co-teachers last year, we shared our experiences as well as some of the new experiences we’ve had this year.

This year’s conference theme, “Independence: Preparing Leaders of Their Own Learning,” really impacted me. Not only do I feel like I have come back to Detroit with multiple new ways to ensure this independence of learning occurs for the students in my classroom, but also, as a participant and student at the conference, I feel I have done just that—become a leader of my own learning.