Using Agency to Empower Students: What is Sacred in Education? #5Sigma

Using Agency to Empower Students: What is Sacred in Education?

 

We are in full on count down mode for our yearly education conference, 5Sigma. This year our theme is Using Agency to Empower Students: What is Sacred in Education.

I could not be more excited for our third annual conference! Each year we work to include educators who have inspired our work. This year is no exception. We have a pretty incredible line up! I’m so thankful for the way that each of the people you see below have shaped me, and inspired me. I know they will do the same for you!

Some things that you can look forward to at the 5Sigma Edu Conference:

  1. We will spoil you (because you do hard work every day, and deserve a weekend of being spoiled).
  2. You will leave inspired, changed, and with practical ways to “launch” (did you see the line up? I mean….)
  3. El Toro the Tot (if nothing else inspires or changes you, lunch on Saturday will!)
  4. Happy hour meet ups (because we are convinced that the Happy Hour is Education’s Magic Bullet).
  5. You will see what happens when students are empowered (we can’t wait for you to meet the students of Anastasis, they are seriously the COOLEST! *slight bias*)
  6. An adult field trip (because who doesn’t love those?!) This year’s trip: Half Penny Brewery including a brewery tour, Most Likely to Succeed showing, and conversation with other passionate educators.
  7. The opportunity to talk shop: have you ever dreamed of starting a school? Re-imagining assessment? Throwing away one-size-fits-all curriculum? Ditching homework? Ditching the test?  Team Anastasis will share how we’ve done it, what we’ve learned along the way, share our insight into what not to do, and be transparent.

We’re excited to meet you! If you haven’t already registered, it isn’t too late! Learn more and register at http://5sigmaeducon.com  If you need help requesting the professional development dollars to attend, we are happy to help out, customize our template letter.

 

2017 5Sigma Sessions

2017 5Sigma Line Up

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“What if we started a school?” – Come see us in action!

Professional Development that lets you see with new eyes

So often I see the same sentiment from educators involved in education dialogue, “Wouldn’t it be nice if a school were doing ____.  I would love to see a school who actually implemented _______, instead of just talking about it.”

As an educator, I felt the same. I would be energized by discussions with colleagues at conferences and then again each week during Twitter chats; I was inspired to do something better, but unsure of where to start. Equally disheartening, I rarely had the examples of schools doing really transformative things to share back with my own school.

It was as a result of these types of interactions that I started my own, “what if we…” school. What if we redesigned assessment and ditched tests? What if we had a school with a no homework policy? What if we got rid of all boxed curriculum? What if we took kids on learning excursions every week? What if we built a true community of learners? What if we got rid of classrooms that looked like classrooms and used space differently? What if we had 1:1 technology?

I want to invite you to come see what this kind of, “what if we…” school looks like. For all of you who have dreamed a different kind of school, a different kind of education, this conference is for you.

5Sigma Edu Con  is not your typical conference. Our goal isn’t to show you all of the latest and greatest apps that you can use in your classroom (although you’ll likely learn about some new ones while your here). Our goal isn’t to inspire you (although inspiration will be here in abundance). Our goal is to give voice to all of your, “what if we…” dreams. To show you what it looks like to start that school, and then empower you to launch some of those dreams in your own classroom.

The conference begins with a Keynote by Jimmy Casas followed by a tour of Anastasis Academy led by our students. You’ll get a learner-eye-view of this “dream” school.  You’ll get a variety of sessions by the very people who have inspired us along the way. Sessions that go beyond your typical sit-and-get. Sessions that inspire you and then empower you to launch change in your classroom.

You’ll also get a closing keynote by the awesome Sarah Thomas, panel discussions, an adult field trip (to a brewery…because it is in Denver!), and the most amazing burger and tots you can imagine (seriously, ask anyone who has been to a 5Sigma Edu Con and they will tell you that this alone is worth the price of admission!)

If you need help getting the PD dollars to attend 5Sgima, customize this template letter to request help from the Powers-That-Be (AKA your administration or development committee). Just copy and paste the sessions that interest you most.

Below are just a few of the sessions you can look forward to at this year’s 5Sigma Edu Con. Space is limited, so make sure to reserve your spot today! If you want to bring a team from your school, please email me at info@anastasisacademy.us and I will be happy to work out a group discount.
Simplify: Becoming a Carry-on Teacher in a Checked Baggage Classroom
-Kevin Croghan
In teaching, we have a bazillion things to do every day, but that doesn’t mean we need to have a bazillion things.  Brass tacks: I like minimalism, I dig gadgets and tools that I can keep on my person, and I love going mobile.  This session will provide sample minimalist philosophies, ideas for everyday items to carry, and time to craft our own personal teaching toolkits to manage our workflows.  The concepts apply to all teachers and are particularly valuable for those who share space.

PBL and Tech: Tools to Support Inquiry Based Learning    
-Jennifer Anderson
Explore tools and apps useful to teachers and students in an inquiry based learning environment. Facilitator and participants will share what they know or learn about tools that support engaging student interest through inquiry, research, project management, and creating artifacts of learning.

Shades of 1:1 – What Models Work Best to Transform Classrooms
– Ben Wilkoff
How does a 1:1 environment change the way we plan lessons to create more engaging learning tasks? How does it support and empower students? If we haven’t answered these questions, why should we hold it up as the ideal? In this session we will interrogate the notion of 1:1 and explore alternative ways of supporting Blended and Personalized Learning in our schools.

Let Them Lead! Student-Owned Learning Environment (re)Design
-Jessica Raleigh and Chris Moore

How might children be leaders and highly engaged learners throughout all phases of a student-led learning environment design (or redesign!) cycle? This session explores the question with a variety of adult and student facilitators from McGlone Academy, guided by a backchannel and planning documents for a learning space (re)design.

Know Your Place: Using Placemaking and Storytelling to Make Meaning & Change the World
-Noah Geisel
We are preparing students for successful futures in a world of automation and outsourcing. This session investigates and unpacks skills that people do better than machines and that can’t be shipped to other countries. Let’s be human and state making meaning together.

Learning  > Assessment: Embedding Stories that Empower Learning
– Kelly Tenkely
How might we re-imagine our assessment practices to better embed stories in the data? How might we give our assessment practices an “upGrade” to better empower students as learners? In this session, we’ll explore the purpose of assessment and identify those elements that help us better tell the stories of learning. We’ll start from a clean slate and re-imagine assessment from the ground up.

What is Sacred in Education? Building a Foundation for Agency
-Kelly Tenkely
What is the first step for agency in education? How might we use a Learner Profile to build a foundation and culture for agency in our schools? Together we’ll explore the pieces of the Learner Profile that we use at Anastasis, as well as how this step into agency seeps into every decision we make as a school.

Passion-Based Learning Through Inquiry- “An Inquiry Inception”
– Michelle Baldwin
Students are often asked to find answers to problems created for them by adults; frequently, these concepts are introduced with little to no context as to how they relate to the students. We want learners to feel empowered to explore ideas that make them wonder, discover problems to solve, ask questions, and demonstrate what they’ve learned in ways that help them make sense of the world around them.

Empowered learners follow their curiosity past mere engagement to discovery and “light bulb” moments in learning. Through an inquiry model, students are able to explore new concepts and follow their passions to a higher level of learning. This results in increased ownership, deeper levels of understanding, and the ability to assess their own progress through reflection. As student agency increases, their learning becomes more meaningful and relevant!

In this session, participants will learn the inquiry model through inquiry – Inquiry Inception! We’ll explore passion-based learning and inquiry methods to learn how to guide students into discovering their passions within any classroom.

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How to make your year more awesome

This week at Anastasis, we watched Kid President’s rules for being more awesome in this new year: “What if all made it our resolution to make this year awesome for somebody else?” (If you haven’t shared it with  your kids…you should!)

I’m taking this resolution to heart and want to help make your year awesome! In February, we want to energize you to make the rest of 2016 more awesome with the 5Sigma Education Conference.

5Sigma Education Conference is THE conference to attend if you are interested in:

  • Innovative school models- Tour Anastasis Academy with our students. Ask questions, meet our team, and see education re-imagined.
  • Learner Profiles- How do develop a complete learner profile to inform individualization
  • A fresh approach to assessment- Explore the goals of assessment and how we’ve re-thought assessment
  • A new perspective on classroom space/building use
  • Inquiry learning
  • Professional development approaches that transform
  • Building a strong school community
  • Learning excursions
  • Innovative uses of technology and ePortfolios
  • Prototype labs and maker spaces
  • Incredible conversations with world changing thinkers and innovators

We can’t wait to meet you all in person!

5Sgima Education Conference

Wednesday Inspiration

You are a genius and the world needs your contribution!

 

 

If you have never had the privilege of hearing Angela Maiers speak, you are missing out!

If Angela’s name isn’t immediately recognizable, her #choose2matter and #youmatter global movements have probably crossed your path.

Angela believes that in today’s world, there are no limits for learners with passion, foresight, and desire to grow. At Anastasis, this message resonates with us.

On February 19, Angela will be the keynote speaker for the 5Sigma Education Conference in Colorado. Angela is the perfect person to kick off a weekend of inspiration, learning, iterating, collaborating, and launching.

5Sigma is unlike any education conference you’ve been to. It begins with a tour of the school I started, Anastasis Academy. This tour is led by Anastasis students of all ages. You’ll get a first hand look at what re-imagined learning looks like. What follows the tour is a weekend of inspiration, passion ignited, collaboration, and fun. We want to introduce you to those (like Angela) who have inspired and shaped us along the way. We have incredible keynotes, sessions, speakers, and panels. On Sunday, we have adult learning excursions that will give you a glimpse of what student field-trips and staff professional development look like at Anastasis.

If you are interested in student voice, starting a school, inquiry, customized assessment solutions, building community, learner profiles, individualized education, 1:1 BYOD environments, learning excursions, professional development that transforms, re-imagined classroom space, design thinking, maker spaces, mentorship, or project-based learning, you will not want to miss this conference! Besides all that, Angela Maiers is our keynote…and that is pretty outstanding!

What makes your school/PD/conference different?

The first question that I get asked when people find out that I’ve started a school: what makes Anastasis Academy different? And this is a tricky one to answer, because the truth is EVERYTHING makes us different. It’s hard to describe something that no one has seen before, so you begin to relate it with ideas and concepts that people are familiar with. The more I’ve talked about Anastasis, the more I’ve begun to really recognize what it is at the heart that makes us so different. It is our starting point and driving force: students-with-names.

That may seem like a strange comment to make, “students-with-names,” because, of course they have names! But in education, we make a lot of decisions without these specific students-with-names in mind. We make decisions for students as if they are a homogeneous group, or worse, a number.

As if they don’t have special interests/passions/gifts.

As if they don’t have something unique that the world needs.

At Anastasis Academy, we see the potential of students-with-names and help them believe that they are capable of realizing that potential. That it is worth the risk of being fully alive. That they can be vulnerable in community.

When we talk about education, too often the focus is on learning all the right things, equipping kids with the right content and answers. But the truth is, a great school is about so much more than learning all the right things. A great school is about connecting humanity. It is about finding the educators who can draw students out, who can foster humanity and connection. Who see potential and help others see it, too. Who help kids embrace their worth and value.

Because we start from this place, from students-with-names, every other decision we make has to honor that.

So we can’t think about curriculum as a one-size-fits all.

Because, students-with-names.

We can’t assess in a way that minimizes the individual and the learning journey that is happening.

Because, students-with-names.

We can’t have large class sizes that prohibit us from getting to know the stories of students.

Because, students-with-names.

We can’t pretend that worksheets, tests, and grades are what learning is about.

Because, students-with-names.

We can’t let technology be the teacher.

Because, students-with-names.

We can’t have restrictive classroom space.

Because, students-with-names.

We can’t rely on typical professional development to prepare teachers.

Because, students (and teachers)-with-names.

When your goal is honoring the humanity, EVERYTHING else must shift to help meet that goal. Everything must be adjusted outside of the assumptions we make as adults about what education “should” look like.

Last week, I asked every Anastasis teacher to come to school on Tuesday with sub plans with one caveat- don’t “dumb it down” for the sub! Just continue on with whatever you were doing. That was all of the information I shared. On Tuesday morning, we all met in the office. I had slips of paper with every class name on it. Each teacher chose a name. This was to be their class for the morning.

Teacher Swap!

My goal was a simple one, build community and empathy among the staff. If you’ve met the staff at Anastasis, you may have wondered at this goal (these are the most amazing people who have incredible empathy and we have a pretty tight community). Something different happens when you are in a classroom that isn’t yours, teaching students you don’t normally teach. You begin to see things through new lenses, different perspectives. You begin to problem solve differently. We had a Jr. High teacher with our 2nd-3rd grade, our 4th-6th teacher with our kindergarten. Teachers who normally teach young students, teaching some of the oldest. It was outstanding!

During our Wednesday staff meeting, we talked about the successes and challenges that were faced. We remembered what it is like to be a “new” teacher again, the fish-out-of-water feeling that comes from having a loose inquiry plan with a different age group. It revealed the way that each class ladders up and prepares these students-with-names for the next part of their learning journey. It reminded us not to set boundaries and expectations too low; these kids are capable of greatness! It revealed to the teachers of the older students why the teachers of the younger students are ready for recess at 10:00am on the button. 🙂

In a few weeks, teachers will begin to go into each other’s classrooms as an observer. My hope is, that the time spent teaching in each other’s classes will provide them with greater insight and more thoughtful observation.

 

In February, we invite you to come visit us. Join us to see first hand how a focus on students-with-names impacts everything that we do (including our approach to conference PD!)  The 5Sigma Education Conference is an opportunity for you to see first hand what makes Anastasis such a different learning environment. On February 19th, our students will tour you through our building, they’ll walk you through classes and talk to you about their learning experiences. We have two incredible keynotes by equally incredible people. Angela Maiers is our opening keynote. If you aren’t familiar with Angela’s work, I encourage you to take a look at her here, and learn why she is the perfect person to kick off our “students-with-names” focused conference. Bodo Hoenen is our closing keynote. Bodo has a passion for making individualized learning possible for children who have been largely forgotten.  In between those keynotes, will be sessions, panels, featured speakers, conversations, and plenty of inspiration. On February 21st we’ll take a field trip together.

This is our second 5Sigma Education Conference, if you were at the first, you know what a powerful weekend this is. If you weren’t with us last year, you will not want to miss out this year! Check out what last year’s attendees had to say about the weekend here.

Register today and take advantage of early-bird pricing!

Have something that needs to be added to our conversations? The call for proposals is still open! Click on the link above and head over to the “Propose a Session” tab.

Seesaw: The ultimate ePortfolio for every classroom!

Seesaw: the ultimate eportfolio for every classroom

What it is: Seesaw is the first truly student centered/driven digital portfolio tool that I’ve seen. What makes Seesaw such an awesome option as a digital portfolio is the way that it empowers kids to build and keep a digital portfolio totally independently with features like QR code login for young students. Students can log their learning using photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs, and links. Seesaw also has direct import features from lots of popular apps. From the teacher perspective, Seesaw makes it simple to access student work immediately from their own device. Content is easily searchable by student and makes it simple to review student progress over time and keep track of growth. In addition to browsing by student, teachers can use folders to organize work by subject area or project. There is also an awesome flag feature that makes it easy to highlight work that you want to go back to for conferences or follow-up with the student. The built in audio recording and drawing tools mean that students can reflect on what they’ve learned or explain how they reached an answer. Parents are also able to login to see work and give feedback on it (you as the teacher can control who sees what and what feedback can be given. Teachers can approve peer feedback before it is seen by students or parents.

Seesaw: the ultimate eportfolio for every classroom

How to integrate Seesaw into the classroom: We’ve long used Evernote as our eportfolio of choice, because it was a simple (enough) entry point and gave students enough flexibility to show what they were working on. With each new release of features, Seesaw is quickly winning me over. This is an app that was clearly created with students and teachers in mind. It has incredible flexibility while equipping with just the right tools and features to make it extra valuable in a school setting. I love the options for feedback that teachers can give, and that all stakeholders are able to login and see what kids are working on. The way that Seesaw enables teachers to give quick feedback to students is incredible. I am also impressed with the integrated audio and drawing features that allow students (even young students) to comment and reflect on their own learning and thinking process. The metacognition implications of Seesaw are awesome!

At Anastasis, even non-digital native assignments get captured in our eportfolio through the camera or video. This means that work “travels” with students from year to year. Future teachers can go back through their progress, but students also have this incredible “bread crumb trail” of learning that they can go back through. It is always fun for us to hear students exclaim over the difference in their writing from day one to day 100. Often the learning process is so infinitesimal that students (and sometimes parents) have a hard time seeing the growth. An eportfolio is a great way to capture all learning so that those baby steps can be seen over time. This has been encouraging for our struggling students especially.

Seesaw supports a variety of platforms making it super simple to use in any classroom environment and particularly in a BYOD setting. Supported platforms include iOS devices, Android devices, Chromebooks, and any computer with a Chrome web browser.

Best of all: Seesaw is FREE!!! If you want to store and organize a child’s portfolio beyond the current year, a Plus account can be purchased by parents for $9.99/year OR a school account.

Tips: Seesaw also has Google App integration, if your school uses Google in Education, they can login with the same Google login they use for everything else!

Wait, what just happened?! (Launching a Conference)

5 Sigma Edu Con- a truly innovative education conference!

As it turns out, putting on a conference is a whole lot like planning for a wedding. Months of preparation, sleepless nights, and dreams (nightmares?) that make you begin to believe that the world revolves around this one event. And then suddenly it is here, the big day. The culmination of all of the hard work.

A strange peace comes over you when you wake the morning of the conference. You’ve done all that you can do. If it hasn’t already been planned for, it will just be what it is.

Blink and it is over.

Wait, what just happened?!

You know it was an AMAZING two days and that the connections were incredible, but going back to sum it up in a few words…that is harder.

The crisis of the imminent creeps in (oh yeah, I still have a school to run!) and before you know it a week has passed and you still haven’t put thoughts down on paper.

I’ve struggled to neatly sum up the 5Sigma Conference. What I can say is, WOW. The 5Sigma Education Conference was one of the best professional experiences I’ve had. It feels a little arrogant to say since I’m the one who planned it, but really, what happened last weekend impacted me enormously. It wasn’t what I did. It was the connections with others who are innovative and amazing in their education space. It was the stories told, the laughter shared, it was the discovery that others are doing the hard thing in education and we share the same struggles and joys. In a way, the 5Sigma conference was like being in a foreign country and finding someone from your hometown. Only everyone at the conference was that person.

Anastasis is a very different kind of school. Even the things we do that share common education language (inquiry), look very different here. It can feel a bit isolating, even surrounded by other educators, because we do things that others don’t. 5Sigma was a great reminder that we aren’t alone. That others know the struggles. They also know the deep joy, freedom, and excitement. It was incredible to be able to share that with so many!

I’m still sorting out my thoughts…I suspect they will become several posts. In the mean time, I want to share some words from others who are more eloquent in their reflection of the weekend than I currently am.

This gem is from @yourkidsteacher (who many of you supported through the 5Sigma Pay-it Forward program to get to Colorado for the conference): Edu Conferences, Woodstock & Physicists

Check out this Storify of Tweets from the weekend to get a taste of the fabulous discussions that happened (Thanks to @rsvoigt for making that happen!): 5Sgima Edu Conference Storify

To all who attended the first annual 5Sigma Education Conference: a sincere thank you! Your presence, support, and the conversation your brought was THE highlight.

To our awesome presenters: You all are rock stars. I don’t say that lightly. You are incredible people doing important work every. single. day. Thank you for sharing that.

To our sponsors: You made so much of what we did possible to do. Thank you for supporting us with swag, donated snacks that made us feel at home, and prizes that put some substantial smiles on faces!

To Team Anastasis staff, students, and parents: You are hands down the BEST and my favorite!

 

Requesting professional development dollars #PD

Education is an interesting beast. We are in the business of learning. We enjoy learning and connecting with other educators to improve our own craft. And yet, often we are expected to pay for our own continuing education. You would think that this would be embedded in our job description and encouraged and supported by our superiors!

We hope you can join us for the 5-Sigma Education Conference, but we know for many of you this means finding wiggle room in the already tight family budget. We want to help you approach your administration/school board/etc. to request professional development dollars to attend 5-Sigma.

We’ve created a letter that you can adjust to fit your personal request. No reinventing the wheel (we know that your time is precious!), no searching for just the right approach (we know that sometimes that equates to it never happening. This Google Document Letter is a view-only. To edit your own copy, you can either copy/paste into your program of choice OR within Google Documents, click on “File” and choose “Make a Copy.” This copy will allow you to personalize the letter to best fit your needs. Within the letter anything within the brackets should be edited. You will also find a link to session descriptions that you can copy/paste from. Find the letter here.

We are happy to contact your administration, and even offer a two-for-one for admins that come along. Just send a request to info@anastasisacademy.us and include the administrator’s email address.

We cannot wait to meet you, to learn with you, and to change education with you!

Professional Development reinvented! #edchat #coed #C4C15

Over the years, I’ve been privileged to meet and know all kinds of wonderful people. Rod Berger (Core of Education) is one such person. Rod is a great encourager, connector, and amplifier in education. If you aren’t familiar with Rod and his work, you should be! Thank you for your time today Rod, I appreciate the help amplifying this new passion project!

 

Anastasis Academy prides itself on embarking on a continual process of discovery. We hope that you will join us for this incredible conference!

From lack of motivation to Schooltopia (a resolution you will want to keep!)

January is the month of resolutions. The dawn of a new year when the possibility for change is fresh, and aspirations of doing better is rampant. The idea of a clean slate, or cleaning of the slate.

Unfortunately for me, January has always been the time of the year when I feel the least amount of motivation (eclipsed only by February). I’m not sure why this is, but I sort of dread this time of year. I can’t pinpoint exactly why this is. It could be that my formally decorated house suddenly feels bare and sad. It could be that it is STILL getting dark before I get home from work and I’m STILL waking up in the dark. Maybe it is the abundance of gray, cold days. OR the indoor recess and cabin fever that flow out of those days. Perhaps it is the tax forms that start showing up in my mailbox reminding me of the imminent filing of taxes. Regardless of the reason, the result is the same. I feel less like connecting with friends, less like engaging in conversations on Twitter that I normally love. In general, I feel much less like my glass-half-full self.

But this year…this year is different! I have something to anticipate in February. I hope for those of you who dread these months like I do, this could be just the thing to pull you out of the January/February funk. 5-Sigma Edu Conference.

4 years ago I started a school. I decided that I was going to put all of the best into one place. All those #edchats were going to matter, they were going to make a difference for kids. I reworked curriculum, assessment, structure of the day, the classroom space, the homework that would happen, the way parents and students would think of school. Basically I wanted schooltopia. Enter some absolutely incredible board members, teachers, and families and the schooltopia is about as close to utopia as you can imagine. That isn’t to say it hasn’t been without its bumps and major lessons along the way (some I would have liked to have avoided), but when you walk into Anastasis Academy, you can instantly feel that something is different in the best way possible. I realize that I am biased, but those who visit our school exclaim over it as well. In fact, those that visit Anastasis generally come back again and again. They invite friends to come see. Our students feel the difference. Our parents talk about the life they see in their kids.

This February, we are hosting our first ever conference. We want to share with a bigger audience what we are up to at Anastasis. What we do that it is different (sometimes it is simply in the language we use with students). We want you to see it first hand. We want to learn together and make Anastasis a true living laboratory. The 5-Sigma Edu Conference is more than a tour of Anastasis. We’ve brought together a truly passionate group of innovators and change makers to host conversations and planning sessions. Christian Long is our opening keynote and Rafranz Davis is our closing keynote. If you’ve ever experienced either of these wonderful people, you know that they are like instant shots of inspiration. Beyond the inspiration, these are people who walk along side educators to help them use that inspiration to inform change.

We’ve got panel discussions with students, teachers, and parents. We’ve got artists who think like educators. We’ve got master mentors. We’ve got incredible educators coming to share their insights and encouragement. We’re bringing in a team of people who have inspired what happens at Anastasis and want to introduce you to the same inspiration.

I. Cannot. Wait.

Finally, something to keep me from the apathy I so often fall into this time of year!

I want to invite you to join us. I can promise this will not be like any other educational conference that you’ve been to!

Register today at http://5sigmaeducon.com

 

Want to hear more? Tune in to Core of Education’s live YouTube event tomorrow!

**I appreciate that for most educators, conference fees and travel come out of personal budgets. I also appreciate (as an educator) that those budgets are extremely tight…always. If you are looking for professional development that will take you beyond the big-budget conferences that share lots of cool tools but don’t transform your classroom, this is the place. We want to spoil you as you’ve never been spoiled at a conference! If you are lucky enough to work in a school or a district that helps pay for outside professional development, I’ll be posting a request letter template here tomorrow. I’ll do my best to save you time in your request!