To listen to my conversation with Jon Hinthorne on the 6th episode of the Unconventional Teacher Podcast, Click Here or Play Below.
Jennifer Stillittano is known widely by her peers, students and others as a Project Based Learning (PBL) guru. Her knowledge about all things related to Project Based Learning is vast, and what is most impressive is how she implements that knowledge with her students each day. She discusses her willingness to take risks in her teaching in this podcast in relation to her entrepreneurship class. This class actually started its own candle making business and is still in business four years later. Beyond this, Jennifer plans and facilitates the adult learning at the school where she worlds, Central Coast New Tech High School in Nipomo, CA. She is extremely thoughtful in her work and a powerful figure in her field.
Check her work on PBL out at her website: www.pbllab.com for more details.
Lastly, go check out her student run candle making business out called Direlights at www.direlights.com and order a few hundred of their handmade and scented candles! All proceeds go back into building their business on campus.
Central Coast New Tech High School Information: www.ccnth.org
New Tech Network information: https://newtechnetwork.org/
Episode Highlights: Asking for Feedback (Checkout our Podcast blog here on this theme) 5 Whys Protocol Entrepreneurial Mindset in the Classroom: Student-run business: Direlights Real World Scholars: Grant given to Jen and her class to start and run their business
Host: Jon Hinthorne
Podcast Editor and Producer: Jon Hinthorne
Social Media: https://instabio.cc/anunconventionalteacher
Website and Media Designer: Nina Telthorst
Graphic Designer: Gracie Bonwich
Podcast Available on: Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, Breaker, and Overcast
As teacher designers in our project-based world, we know that in order to create a meaningful and deep learning experience we need to begin with the end in mind. Well, if we backwards map from our ideal student doesn’t so much of that involve starting with the ideal teacher who will be the one in direct contact with that student?
The Story of Central Coast New Tech
Our journey of creating a public school with passionate and dedicated teachers and students that our community would be proud of started about five years ago and our team worked to clearly define the answer to this initial question: What do we want our students to know and be able to do by the time they graduate from Central Coast New Tech High School? From that driving question we created and have continued to refine why we do what we do, how we do it, and the culture that supports our shared vision. We have now achieved a major milestone by graduating our first class of students and have transitioned to a new director and welcomed many new, talented facilitators to be part of our New Tech family. Our mix of fostering a positive, trusting and respectful school culture with technology-rich and relevant project-based instructional strategies has been proven to produce happy, healthy, and engaged students and staff members which can be seen in the results of numerous formal and informal data points from NTN.
Inspiration for the PD Revolution
We are now beginning the next phase of our school development journey by asking ourselves a different driving question, how does my role as an individual impact the academic and cultural success of our school? The Learning Team at CCNTH, which is comprised of a small group of teacher leaders that work with our director to strategically align professional development and supports for the whole school, was deeply inspired by Tom Vander Ark's keynote speech this past summer at the New Tech Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. We took his message about the power of personalized and project-based learning experiences to heart and began a series of deep conversations about the future of our school and the implications of designing structures that would support deeper learning for not just our students, but our staff. Afterall, we are learners, too! We are the models of what it means to be lifelong learners so shouldn’t we apply the strategies we are using for our students with ourselves...maybe even first?
Implementing Revolutionary Adult Learning
The Learning Team then began to design a staff project around this driving question, called Showing Up: A self study of active engagement & personalized professional development at CCNTH thus embedding our project based learning structures within our own professional development. We rolled this project out in the beginning of the year and just completed our mid-project reflections. After hearing the staff’s feedback and thoughts, it has been so exciting to see teachers taking ownership over their own learning! Some CCNTH teachers are completing the NTN Certified Teacher Badge Pathway, while others are furthering their learning through educational book studies. Teachers are moving in the same direction but at differentiated levels and content areas. We believe we can personalize professional development by using the Showing Up project as a structure and guidelines to make sure we are achieving the results we desire; continuous positive growth and improvement of our practice.
Here are some things we know that is guiding our personalized PD project:
Some of the things we still need to know: