MEC has employed webinars in multiple projects and has found them to be a powerful motivator for all participants. Webinars are one way to allow project participants to refocus and stay connected and motivated during the school year.
Each webinar follows a similar format:
- An initial check-in time where all participants respond, in chat mode, to prompts that are generally sent out ahead of the webinar time. All come prepared to share their stories. Transcripts of responses to the prompts have provided a history created in real time of the changes being made in the classrooms of project participants;
- A teaching segment is included each time. Webinar topics to date include: a) Building numeracy through Number Talks; b) Examining the SMP through the lens of a classroom video; c) Enacting our Theory of Action with a lens toward provoking productive cognitive dissonance; d) Providing skills practice in mathematically engaging and important contexts; e) Working with parents.
- Each webinar wraps up with a time for chat-based responses to the teaching segment, a Q&A session for questions posed by participants, and an overview of upcoming project events.
Project webinars to date have been held on weekday evenings.
Given the late hour at the end of teaching days, and the limitations of only being together virtually we anticipated that the webinars would be an unwelcome requirement of projects. Quite the opposite is true.
Both the participants and we ourselves, as host presenters, are energized by webinars. Participants encourage each other through the chats, talk about changes they’re making and struggles they’re having, engage actively in the learning segments, and comment frequently on how important these webinars are for their own growth and how they remind them that the hard work they are doing to transform their classroom practice is part of a project much bigger than themselves, and that they are not alone in the work.
“We’ve traveled from standard classrooms led by a teacher, with kids as passive participants, to active classrooms where kids are doing the math and teachers are facilitators. We needed an expanded time together to make such a change in beliefs and the summer sessions were vital in the accomplishment. Each webinar allowed us to cheer each other on and learn from all of our mistakes. The depth of knowledge of our facilitators, paired with their varied strengths and obvious comradery, gave us an amazing opportunity to face soft spots in our own math understanding. We’ve built a family of learners and lovers of mathematics.”
Middle School Teacher, WA