This past year I kicked an idea around where teachers would lead other teachers in learning about topics that interested them. I ran it past a couple of other teachers to test the waters. They liked it, and so we began. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly (well, maybe not ugly) of our first year.
I decided on the name Wonder Wednesdays because I liked the ring of it. We met on, you guessed it, Wednesdays. We met to discuss what we were wondering about and what we wanted to learn more about at our own pace. It was purely voluntary, topics were teacher driven, and we moved on when the group decided. Anyone could propose and lead a topic. And like EdCamps, no hurt feelings if you left because it wasn’t what you needed. That was the good…
The bad part? Low attendance. We’re a Title One building and it seems like every day of the week there was a meeting to attend or a club that was meeting. Well, maybe not Mondays, but come on, no one wanted to meet about anything on a Monday morning at 8am. There seemed to be no good day.
What about the ugly? While not truly ugly, it’s the comments or complaints you’d hear about how the district wasn’t training us on this or that (I’ve been guilty of this myself which is one of the reasons for starting Wonder Wednesdays). Or, people asking you how you learned something and wanting you to take your personal plan or other time to show them. Umm…that’s what we were doing on Wednesdays. Really, I’m not mad or making judgments, but just don’t complain when you don’t or can’t take advantage of something when it’s offered. Please no hateful replies in the comment section. I get that meeting doesn’t always fit into everyone’s schedule. I’m just saying you can’t have it both ways.
So what do you do? Give up and chalk it up to experience? Nope. No one ever said leading was easy. While attendance was low, we learned a lot when even just a few of us were able to attend. Not just one teacher led. We had several teachers who brought something new for the group to investigate. At times, our administrators were also able to attend and learned right along with us. Will I suggest changes for next year? You bet. Here’s what I’m thinking.
Moving Forward with Wonder Wednesdays
- Ask my administration what days are already planned for mandatory meetings and see if Wonder Wednesdays could be put on the schedule but still have it be voluntary.
- Together, choose a topic each quarter so that the group has longer to really explore the topic.
- Continue to have a basic agenda for the meetings and post it. This helped us stay on track when we met.
- Advertise our meetings better.
- Invite everyone at the beginning of the year to join our Wonder Wednesdays Google Classroom. This way they can be a part of the group virtually if unable to physically attend.
- Film the meetings and post to Google Classroom and possibly consider a YouTube channel.
- Don’t give up and keep extending the invitation.
Trying Wonder Wednesdays was a bit of risk for me. I like helping people and learning from them, but I’m not the kind of person who usually organizes a group to start something new. If I were in a comic book series, you’d see me cast as the trusty sidekick. I usually play the supportive role. I worried that no one would come. This is where I had to check my ego at the door. It’s not about number of attendees or if other people question your motives. You need to do what you believe in, no matter what. Eventually, if it’s important enough to others, or they find value in what you have to offer, they will come.
If you are already doing something like this in your building, I’d love to hear about it and get ideas from you as well.