Teaching is a risky profession in todays world of ever changing expectations. One of the ways that teachers can manage the risks that surround them is to be clear in their own understanding of what is really at risk. Together teachers must begin to make their thinking visible to themselves and others. What does it mean to make thinking visible? Using a variety of visual thinking models, teachers will wrestle with what keeps them in their comfort zones. They will see how thoughts grow as they share, listen and collaborate. One goal is to model Visual Thinking as an important new strategy for understanding what keeps us from taking risks and learning how to move beyond those obstacles. This strategy is one teachers can use for their own Professional Development as well as model for students learning and collaborating in the classroom. The second goal is to challenge the teachers to leave their Comfort Zones, moving forward together for the benefit of the students.
After a short introduction, the teachers will answer several questions by traveling to different parts of the room based on their responses. Once there they will share ideas with those of similar opinions, add a summary of their groups ideas to a wiki and share to the group. Then the wiki page will be projected on the front screen, with comments and reactions solicited. The next question will be posed, and the process will repeat. After two questions, there will be a time for reflection about the benefits and challenges of this strategy and a directed conversation about both the process of visible thinking and teacher risk-taking. Our hope is that teachers take away from the discussion a sense of optimism and enthusiasm for thoughtful change and risk-taking as well as several ways to evaluate their own ideas on this or other topics.