The Minimalist Educator Podcast

Episode 027: Developing Teacher Capacity with Christine and Tammy

March 12, 2024 Tammy Musiowsky-Borneman
The Minimalist Educator Podcast
Episode 027: Developing Teacher Capacity with Christine and Tammy
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Discover the transformative power of collaboration and leadership in education with Tammy Musiowsky-Borneman and me, Christine Arnold, on the minimalist educator podcast. This episode promises to leave you with invaluable insights on how building teacher capacity is not just about enhancing individual skills but revolutionizing the entire school community. We delve into the world of professional development and peer coaching, discussing how these practices ensure that our educators are as dynamic as the students they're preparing for the future. Join us as we unravel the ways in which a thriving learning culture for adults translates into a more committed and effective teaching environment.

Prepare to be inspired by the innovative strategies we discuss for integrating teacher-led sessions into the heart of the school day. We shine a spotlight on the energizing and empowering effects these sessions have on educators, and in turn, their students. Experience the refreshing approach of "dumb goals" and how they can serve as aspirational beacons, steering us away from the rigidity of traditional goal setting. Together with Tammy, we examine the creative twists in curriculum planning that not only enhance the teaching journey but also promise to imprint a lasting mark on the educational system's ability to flourish. Each conversation is a step towards shaping the future of learning, for teachers and students alike.

Today's episode was brought to you by Plan Z Professional Learning Services, Forward Thinking Educator Support. Find out more at www.PlanZPLServices.com. Follow us @PlanZPLS on Twitter and Instagram.

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to the minimalist educator podcast, a podcast about pairing down to refocus on the purpose and priorities in our roles with co-hosts and co-authors of the minimalist teacher book, tammy Musiowsky-Borniman and Christine Arnold.

Speaker 2:

In this episode, tammy and I have a chat about building teacher capacity. We discuss what it's all about, why it's important and some strategies we can use to get there.

Speaker 3:

Welcome to today's episode of the minimalist educator podcast. How are you today, christine? I am great. Tammy, how are you? I'm really good. I'm excited to have just you and I chat. It's nice to just have the two of us sometimes although I love talking to guests, obviously, because we had talked to some amazing people, we sure do. Very lucky, yes. Yes, today we're going to talk about building teacher capacity, which is, I think it's like a big thing that's happening right now. Not that it's just starting or anything it's not a new idea but I feel like it's something that's happening in schools more, and so we'll talk about that today Sounds good, and why is it important for schools to consider building teacher capacity?

Speaker 2:

Why can't we just leave the teachers alone to do what they've always done, and just do their thing and get on with it?

Speaker 3:

That's a good question. I think it's kind of hard to answer because I want to say good point, leave them alone, Let them focus on planning good learning experiences and getting to know their students and just teaching. But we know that's not the reality of a teacher's role Because I think that, first of all, teachers are so much to their students and their colleagues.

Speaker 3:

And by that I mean like you show up every day to teach and model and share experiences with and help develop skills, and it's not just a job you show up to, right, like you have to be really prepared to, because you're doing a lot of peopleing, right all day long.

Speaker 3:

So you have to enjoy people first of all, Preferably, yes, but teachers are really like in this place, where you do have the potential capability to change, help change people's lives, and that's a pretty big task. So if teachers are solely focusing on just teaching, we're missing opportunities, I think, in a couple of ways where there's amazing teachers that have so many great skill sets that we need them to share that with other teachers Absolutely, Because you know, like we yes, they might be amazing teachers, but also like they work really well with their teacher next door, or like you know their great team or whatever and we need strong teachers to share those skills and help not just build their capacity as a teacher leader, but bring that into other people's lives as well. So we're not just talking about, you know, improving student lives, but each other's lives as colleagues.

Speaker 2:

I think as well you know, the world is rapidly changing these days. Well, it has been for a while now, to be fair, and I think in a way, teachers are really on the front line of that. You know the advances that are being made in the digital world, the kinds of jobs that our students are going to be facing when they go out into the world. These things are changing and changing rapidly and there is some sort of responsibility on our shoulders for assisting with that, supporting with that changing world. So, unfortunately, I don't think we can, as professionals, just continue to do what we've always done in the way that we've always done it Right, and expect to still have the same results when everything around us is changing so much.

Speaker 3:

Right, yeah, no, that's so true. I often wonder about teachers in. You know, when we were growing up, did they just focus on purely teaching us and like teaching was different than to right? I don't really remember being overly engaged in what I was learning or having like really engaging learning experiences. But I wonder, was there the same focus then as there is now to develop teacher leaders in roles? And if, would school be have been different then? You know, and I have no idea, I guess I could reach out and ask some old teachers that I had. It would be really interesting to know.

Speaker 3:

But I just think about as soon as I started teaching, like how right away I had opportunities, even as a new teacher, to start building my own capacity beyond my classroom.

Speaker 3:

So, like I worked with the literacy consultant when I started teaching in Edmonton, I worked with the science consultant at our district and I went to all their workshops and all their things and then I had the opportunity like share that with my colleagues at staff meetings and like, as a new teacher, that can be super daunting, right, because you're just like learning to teach, but now, like you're teaching your colleagues who are more experienced than you have you know ways of doing things and so I know I'm kind of like going on a different path here.

Speaker 3:

But it just made me think about how, when all teachers, no matter how much experience they have, have opportunities to build their capacity, it's going to strengthen the school community because we're sharing skill sets and helping each other reflect and you get the feedback too. So I think it's helpful when we open ourselves up to those kind of opportunities because it really does shift practice and help, even though it's scary. Right, it can be scary to like take on some kind of leadership role or like peer teaching or coaching or something like that, because we do feel oppressed and it's different skills. But it can really strengthen a community when you know that you can go and rely on like oh, christine's really good at doing this, so I'm going to go check in with her on that, because I need help with that and I think that just really creates a positive learning culture for adults at a school.

Speaker 2:

For sure. I know the schools that I've been in where it is like that, where we are encouraging each other, sharing with each other, collaborating with each other. I am way more engaged in what I'm doing, more excited about being in education I work harder for the school, like all of those things tick, tick, tick for sure. And the schools where it has been more siloed off and you're kind of doing your thing on your own. Yeah, I can definitely feel myself getting more switched off and looking for you know that challenge in other areas of my life instead, for sure. I mean that was such a perfect example. When we're in Singapore, the group of people that we were with. We were so encouraging of each other and all of us. We did so much during our time there. We were on committees and this group and that group and we were presenting on the weekends and holidays and writing articles and all the rest of it because we were all encouraging each other and having these rich discussions all the time. It was a perfect example of that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, it was a very enriching experience to be able to do that together and it doesn't feel like work Because you're enjoying it right, like it's in. It's very enjoyable when you Find the right people to be able to, to help build your skills and like feel comfortable saying I Need help with this. I'm not really sure about this, but like I know that I can go to you or to whoever to help that, to help me build that within myself, because I do want to get better at it.

Speaker 3:

And when we're siloed, like you, just You're in a tunnel and and that's not a Good place to be because you do feel very detached from your community and even though, like you know, you do go through your day or teaching the kids and you just like are in the zone, but you have to get out of the zone because yeah, you know you have to realize that, oh yeah, like we were just like really in the stuff today which was is great, but you can't stay in that because you're not going to have the reflective time or you know, it's just really helpful to to have the like planning meetings with your team, or if you're well, not every school has great teams to to Plan with, but you got to find someone to be able to collaborate with Because it's just like that brain, those brainstorming sessions where you just like shoot out ideas and like what about this for this and what about like, if we try that it's just really helpful and it's it's just so much more engaging.

Speaker 3:

I think for teachers when you can, when you're like helping each other develop these skills Simultaneously, right so?

Speaker 3:

it's like different. It's different from like, oh, we're having someone come in to do this workshop for us, which is like has its time in place, but, like we always say, like your best resource is the teacher next door, which may be very true, right? So it's like draw on the people that are right down your hallway to To help you with like talk over a lesson. Like, oh, I planned this and it went like really terrible. So like, talk me through. Look, can we talk about this, because I want to. I want to do it again. I got to redo it, but it's got to be better.

Speaker 2:

So, yeah, we need that time yeah. Yeah, so we've talked a lot about collaboration and working with all the awesome people around you, and, obviously, there's professional development that we can do. So what are some other things that you think are really important that we can do that enable us to build our capacity as teachers?

Speaker 3:

I Know this lady who's a principal who shared one of the ways that she has professional learning sessions at her school and it was it's kind of like I Forget what she called it but teachers would sign up to like share their strength or specialty or like thing that they were good at in like these mini sessions and so like you got to experience, like if so-and-so is really good at with like Google classroom or something, so like you could go to her session. It's kind of like a At camp almost, where people just like go and they're like, oh, I'm gonna present on this and you can show up and it can be a Discussion or a presentation or you know whatever it needs to be. But she said that she just had so much success and such an increase in positivity when Teachers had the time. Like she carved out like the morning time when and I think it was only like 30 minutes, so there was like 10 minute chunks or something, so you could do like three sessions. But she's like it just was such a great thing to just build right into the day. So it was already.

Speaker 3:

It was not an add-on but it was in the scheduled day and Teachers were just so excited to share what they were good at and like help their colleagues Learn something new and then know that like, oh, if I need that, I can go to you because that's what you shared with us. And she's like we I never was short of people who wanted to present something. So when you give what's that movie Field of Dreams, like if you build it, they work like it's true, right, yeah, um, if, if you open up a space for teachers to share, they will come and do it and they'll be happy to do it. They won't feel pressed or pressured or like. This is just another thing that we have to do, because it's people like willingly and voluntarily sharing what they want to share For sure.

Speaker 2:

Again, it's that piece of having ownership over what you're doing. We know with the students as well as soon as people have choice and agency in what they're doing, they're going to be way more engaged and involved in what's going on than if they feel like they have no choice and they're just being told to do something. So I think if you can set up communities like that, cultures like that, where people feel like they have a choice in what they're doing, a choice of how they're spending their time as well, then that is really going to be beneficial to building that teaching capacity.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, for sure. And when work doesn't feel like work, like people are happy, oh, because it feels fun, it just feels so true, yeah, it feels so much fun.

Speaker 3:

And I was saying to our friend Nicole we were talking about curriculum planning I'm like if people just made that process more fun and engaging and you had a little bit of agency in that, people would actually enjoy it, because it can be a really fun process to just brainstorm and share ideas and know that it's this nebulous big thing to start with but you're going to whittle it down to this really great learning experiences for your students. But a lot of times we think, oh, curriculum planning, oh, we got all. Well, you know it's not that fun, but I think you're kidding me.

Speaker 2:

I know my favorite thing to do. Is that just me? Am I the only one?

Speaker 3:

No, no, it is a fun process, but it's like it can feel so daunting and like not fun. But it is like if you break it down, like it can be lots of fun. And I know that we're like totally nerding out about that kind of thing.

Speaker 2:

But well, yeah, I think that I think that might be what's going on there. So I'm just a curriculum nerd, but that's OK.

Speaker 3:

There's just so many opportunities for great teacher thinking and collaboration when curriculum planning that I know not every school has that freedom or like the ability to do that, but like if you do enjoy it and rejoice in it because it's like such a fun experience when you have a great team to plan with. Yeah and just you know, like that's, that's so much capacity building in there, because you really get to know, like, how people think it's really interesting.

Speaker 2:

It really is. So do we have some pare down pointers to me.

Speaker 3:

I want to go back to if you built that, they will come. I think that's the pare down pointer there, like, just provide the opportunities for people to be, for people to to be able to develop skills and share it and collaborate, and people will be happy to do it with some agency right. The you.

Speaker 2:

Well, I really want like a movie quote now, for no, I was thinking about like your goal setting can be really powerful with this sort of thing. Like to have a goal in mind of how you want to build your own capacity or how you want your team to build capacity is really helpful. And I was just reading something out of the day about you know, we hear a lot about smart goals, but this was talking about dumb goals. I don't know if you've heard of this.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I like this, and of course, I'm going to do my usual thing where I've read about something but I can't remember who said it, so I'm going to have to look it up again and then put it in the show notes. But the dumb goals it starts the first D and dumb starts with dreams, and so it's really that big goal setting idea based around what you're passionate about, what you dream about, and I think sometimes the smart goals are missing that a little bit. It feels a little bit more clinical and missing some of the motivation. So I kind of liked the dumb goals start with your dreams, because you know it's quite aspirational to think in that way, rather than just what can I tick off and when? Right, yeah, so I think, yeah, coming coming back to goal setting, what is it that you want to improve on for yourself, for your students, for your community? And really focusing on prioritizing that and focusing in on that.

Speaker 3:

I like that. I need to know more about the dumb goals because they don't sound dumb.

Speaker 2:

No, I don't think they are. I mean, I haven't tried it out yet, but we will share. We will share some links.

Speaker 3:

Yes, no, that sounds good. Well, thank you, Christine, this was a great conversation. And until next time. See you then.

Speaker 2:

Today's episode was brought to you by Plan Z Professional Learning Services Forward Thinking Educator Support. Find out more at planzpealservicescom.

Speaker 1:

Be sure to join Tammy and Christine and guests for more episodes of the Minimalist Educator Podcast. They would love to hear about your journey with minimalism. Connect with them at planzpls on Twitter or Instagram. The music for the podcast has been written and performed by Gaya Moretti.

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