I am a big fan of Jennifer Gonzalez and her site Cult of Pedagogy. I follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Podcasts, and email. She gives very practical tips and is down to earth. If you don’t follow her, you should.
Last year I saw her blog post on Pineapple Charts and thought “We can do that!” It’s also a chapter in her book Hacking Education. I brought the idea to our Professional Development Coordinator, who I have also gotten hooked on Cult of Pedagogy. She thought it was a great idea so we took it to our boss. It took us a while to figure out where and how to display the chart, because the wall we wanted to use for the chart was promised to someone else while we were still deciding what to do. Our head of secondary school wanted us to go digital, so we went to our amazing secondary ICT teacher and told him what we wanted, and asked if Google Docs would be the right tool. He figured it out in a few days and gave us the solution. (Pineapple Hack #1) We have two big TV screens in a common area/school coffee shop that cycle through news, announcements, and student projects. We decided to make the links visible on the TV screen every morning so teachers could see what classes were up for offer, and the screens cycle the Teapot times throughout the day after that.
After weeks of planning and tweaking, we decided it was time to launch it, right after the holiday. In November it was too close to final exams and Christmas to try to launch a new initiative, and we didn’t want it to fall flat.
To formally launch it, we thought a video would be the best route so that it had time limitations and it was shareable for those who weren’t at the staff meetings. Jen to the rescue again! MySimpleShow is a great tool for a short presentation. I learned a lot in making the video. I purposely chose to use a tool I hadn’t used before because I wanted to challenge myself to learn something new with technology.
Our Hack #2 of Pineapple Chart is to call it Teapot Time. You see, we are in an international school in Beijing, China, and a symbol of hospitality here is sharing tea.
My coworker and I did the video together, and had fun with the audio recording on MySimpleShow. Here’s our video:
Teapot Time was formally launched in the middle of January, and to date we have had over 20 signups! Hack #3, that you saw in the video, is that when we have our weekly staff meetings, we now have a “Teapot Sharing Time” so teachers can get up and share what they saw or learned from hosting or visiting. When they do, they receive a small pack of tea that was brought back from a class trip to southern China.
It was really encouraging to hear several colleagues stand up and say that they tried something new in their classes in response to seeing a new tool in a visit. Or to hear that two teachers found links between their subjects that they may not have noticed before. We hope to start having cross school visits, so primary teachers visit both ECE and Secondary, and vice versa.
Hack #4 is that two teachers, completely on their own, decided to offer mini-sessions after school of PD to train teachers on various topics. One was integrating TOK into mainstream classes, and the other will be a deeper introduction to using Quizlet.
From time to time I plan to update how the Teapot Time is going and what other hacks we’ve come up with to further enrich our school. It’s such an easy and fun way to get more internal professional development!