Friday, November 4, 2016

Week 7 -- Empowering Teachers

Today's post is from MWHS Chemistry Teacher Sarah Morinville

I am in my 12th year at Mound Westonka High School. I have taught in other school districts and I never felt empowered during my first year in other districts. When I interviewed at Westonka, I knew that this was where I wanted to be. No other district had teachers on the interview panel that were asking deep pedagogical and content based questions. It was apparent right away that Westonka was a school district that listened and valued its teachers’ inputs.

After joining this amazing district, I was immediately given opportunities to join leadership groups. The best part is that no one is expected to stay on a leadership group forever. The community only wants people in groups who are passionate about the group’s mission. I have been part of Technology Integration and Learning Team, Department leader, School Improvement Team, Link Crew Advisor, and so many more. It is hard to keep track.

My colleagues who are in these groups with me are just as passionate as I am about providing the best experience for students as possible. Being part of these groups is like being in college again. I get to engage in academic discussion, collect data, draw conclusions, and my favorite part, share our findings.

I recently was able to collaborate with a group of teachers from the high school. We created a lesson for the rest of the faculty that taught them about book study. It was an amazing experience. Our faculty LOVES to learn from each other! I felt energized to work with a small group to create an outstanding lesson on striving to become a master teacher.

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I am always trying new teaching techniques and technologies in my classes. MWHS encourages teachers to try new sound techniques. I love sharing what I am doing and how it is going with our faculty but I also love to showcase our amazing school at teaching conferences. I have shared our Westonka education story at the local TIES conference for the last 4 year. I have presented at the EdLeadership conference. Our technology integration and learning team shared our in house development of interactive and personalized professional development. This past summer, I was showcasing Westonka’s personalized learning and during my presentation, I heard people say, “She works for a great district.” All I wanted to do is stop the presentation and say, “YES, I DO!”

My latest opportunity to share Mound Westonka High School’s innovation was at this year’s iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Summit in San Antonio, Texas. I worked with Kristin Wallace to create a personalized way for participants to learn about the three pillars of personalized learning. This means we created three lessons for each pillar. We had the participants create learner profiles and divide up into their preferred learning style. Participants were able to experience a personalized learning environment while learning about personalized learning.
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We were able to network and learn from districts around the country, but the best part is that districts seeked out Westonka! Districts from around the country were learning from us and they want to visit our schools. Participants were excited to take our resources back to their schools. One participant said, “I’m going to use your resources with my school to help them move towards a more personalized environment.” Westonka is not only helping teachers in district and at the local level but we are helping teachers nationally because we all have the same goal. We want students to be successful and prepared for the future!

When I reflect on my speaking and networking opportunities I have received in the last 12 years, I often ask myself, “how did this all happen?” It happens because Westonka empowers teachers to pursue leadership opportunities in educational passions. There is no other place I would rather work!
If you have a story that you would like to share, please fill out the Pride Blog Form! We would love to hear from you!