A few months ago, my Principal Jenny Goldman, won a subscription to Chrome Warrior, a personalized professional development gamified program. While I don't know all the details about how it was put together (only that it took a few months to get it all sorted out), I do know the effect it has had on our staff.
The idea of the game was shared with the teachers at a staff meeting in Dec. It was not met with any enthusiasm. There were even a few groans and UGH stares. This could be partly because it was explained briefly at the meeting right before winter break in the midst of grading, holiday programs, and all the trappings of the holiday season that go on in a classroom. Those of us who had known what this truly was were very excited, however.
I have shared about how close my staff is and many of our wonderful qualities. What I have not talked about was how competitive we are! There are constant classroom competitions for minor things, like whose class had the most students participate in the fundraiser or if all of my students finished the morning PE laps before other classes finished. It is all in good fun and seems to help classes form a bond. The thought of having a game to promote PD, with a few minor prizes thrown in, was really all many of us needed to indulge in our competitive natures.
Each level of the game allowed a teacher to show off what they were doing in the classroom or learn a new skill. Because this was personalized for our school culture and each teacher could choose which parts (other than a few required elements), teachers seemed to take to it immediately. On day one of the game, many teachers were "reprimanded" to quit playing so we could continue with the staff meeting. A leader board is posted, along with who completed which "sortie" so that teachers can encourage and praise each other (or step up their own game in order to "beat" their peers). It is fun to see who is doing what and how many points they are earning. I even overhead someone saying "I had no idea she does so much!"
Teachers are taking evenings and weekends to earn more points and their first badges. Some are even using their insomnia to their advantage to get more PD in. It is kind of fun to hear Jenny complain that she doesn't have enough time to approve everyone's points by looking at their evidence. Wanting teachers to slow down their PD is not something a principal usually has to say. Boy is this exciting to be a part of.
Some of us have started Level 2 while others are almost there after just a week. I am really hoping that the excitement teachers are feeling at the beginning of the game continues throughout. I think it will as a glance at what is coming looks like it will definitely step up everyone's teaching. The students are the ones who will really benefit. I even brought my class into the game. (See why in my blog post love-letter-to-my-class.html.) Since much of the "evidence" I submit for the points is student work, I showed them what I am doing. They were excited to see I was at the top of the leaderboard (for a little while anyway) and wanted to help me stay there. I asked for their opinion on what I should do next for one portion. They had many ideas. Some even wanted to help determine the prize for the special Level 4!
Another reason this "game" makes me happy is that we are being used as a pilot for the rest of the district. Whether or not this becomes a true game for everyone or just a more accessible way for teachers to get PD that means more to them and their students, it is sure making a positive mark on our school.
What I learned:
- Teachers love to play games too.
-Stickers and badges can be great incentives for adults!
- Students are always the ones who benefit from teachers learning.
-PD doesn't have to be boring and the same for everyone. Make it personalized and they are more likely to embrace what they are learning.
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching