1:1 What’s Working, December 2014-Chocolate Cake

Posted: December 10, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

So, I’ve been thinking about the gathering I hosted on Friday.

At the encouragement of a colleague I invited all my teaching colleagues to a 1:1 What’s Working gathering on Friday after school. I know it sounds like a terrible time, but students get out early on Friday and we (faculty) aren’t really supposed to leave right away. I sent out an invite of sorts and promised food. I got a handful of acceptances right away. Then on the morning of the gathering I sent out this picture of the cake I made for the event. I got some more people with that.


So, I think what’s working is cake. This chocolate sour cream bunt cake from Cook’s Illustrated (January,2004) never disappoints.

I expected folks to stay 30 minutes, maybe 45 minutes at most. A number of people came and went as they needed to. Totally fine. I didn’t want this to be some serious meeting with an agenda. I took notes so that people could just listen and talk. But then, it turned out people stayed. And stayed longer. At the hour and a half marked we had to call it an afternoon.

What was exciting was having people come together to share the positives. I get plenty of complaints from people. I don’t think I’m in danger of not hearing the negative stuff. Hearing about all different things that are working for particular classrooms and courses was so interesting. It’s always so great to hear the excitement and enthusiasm people have for what they are doing. I can’t help but be excited too.

So, what did people share? Here’s a quick link to my notes. Feel free to read through, take what you need, ask any questions in the comments, suggest your own favorite classroom tech use, share a recipe.

I am curious about how other schools and tech coaches engage their colleagues generally. Our Middle School Tech Coach, @Betny802, has been hosting weekly Tea and Tech gatherings for a number of weeks. She sends out a note with the menu (1 beverage, 1 food item, 1 tech thing) in advance and has been getting a few people at each tea. She’s building momentum. Our Lower School Technology Coach, the very connected @TeacherDebra, sends out regular digests of ideas with shout outs to particular teachers. She is also in and out of classrooms all the time. In high school I don’t think that teachers expect or would take well to me wandering in and out of rooms during class. We have a mid-day break time that is a possibility, but I have not had any luck with that as a gathering time, except to trouble shoot, hence the Friday option.

So, moving forward, I want to continue our gatherings. I plan to stick with the Friday time for right now. Here are my questions:

  • Every week seems too frequent, but once a month might not be enough. Every other week?
  • Do I try to sneak in a little something in particular, or just let the sharing take its course?
  • Maybe on alternate Fridays have a learning session that comes out of ideas that were shared the week before? Too much?

I’d love some thoughts.


  1. Bethany says:

    I thought about frequency a lot before deciding on weekly Tea and Tech. My theory is that, if I did it every other week or ever, EVER canceled, then people would say, “Oh! I don’t even know when Tea and Tech meets.” So, I made it every week, and I get different attendees each week.

    At the request of the teachers, I set up a theme for each week. They told me that what they were looking for with that time is freedom and space to mess around with tools . . . so I envision Tea and Tech as a brainstorming session. What I liked about your 1:1 discussion was that the teachers who have innovated had the chance to share what’s working for them; it made me think about ways to include that kind of reflection in Tea and Tech as well. Perhaps once a month having the menu include reflection?

    That’s more of a way that I’m thinking about incorporating your ideas than a response to your question, though. Biweekly. That’s what I think. Going 1:1 is such a big change, and there will be a lot of shifts in teaching that people will want (need?) to share.

    • mseiteljorg says:

      Thanks for thinking about this. I like that there is a plan for each of your teas. And, good to think about the canceling issue.

      I am trying to balance letting teachers be the lead sharers with me being the teacher. I am thinking at this point that I may alternate sharing with instruction and have the instruction session be something that comes out of the previous week’s sharing.

  2. Maggie says:

    A delicious post on many levels (cue rim shot)!

    First, the cake looks fantastic. Cooks Illustrated – particularly its vintage stuff – does very little wrong to my mind. Super clever to snap a photo to lure more to the meeting. Once hooked with good conversation, the participants will keep coming back! I am very fortunate to work in a richly culturally diverse school. Any ideas how I can offer food and still be inclusive of my colleagues with cultural or religious dietary restrictions? The conviviality around offering food is a small thing, but one that, as you say, sets the tone.

    Elizabeth’s spreadsheet/mail merge could be something others want to know about to help keep student momentum moving at a good clip. Perhaps consider that for a future mini-lesson if it feels relevant?

    Ultimately, though, I’m a fan of the agenda setting coming from those attending. Perhaps a session like, “What do you wish it (technology) could do for you???” would be a way to compile ideas for future gatherings. Knowing you are on a 7 day cycle, maybe calibrating the meeting times to that – once every two cycles, say – will engender the right space between meetings. Of course, that could be asked of the group as well: “Are we meeting to frequently/infrequently for your taste?”

    And speaking of taste, always good to determine if the room is more a fruit-based or chocolate-based crowd! 🙂

    • mseiteljorg says:

      Thanks for commenting. I also love Cook’s Illustrated. I also had fruit and some cheese and crackers, coving a number of key food groups in one small snack table!

      Even though you are correct about the 7 day rotation, Friday is an early day in Upper School. So, I think I will probably keep that day. I am also feeling that having more of the agenda come from teachers is probably the right move at the moment. As I mentioned, I may have something up my sleeve each meeting so that I can share that as part of the larger sharing. And, I think that having some follow up sessions that go into more detail on ideas shared will also be a good plan.

      I’m trying to walk a very fine line here, probably in inappropriate shoes.

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