Guest Blog – The Secret

Jodi Houseknecht Giger, Instructional Coach and Technology teacher K-6 at Millville Area School District in Intermediate Unit 16

After 23 years of teaching, I have learned the secret… there is ALWAYS something else I can learn! Sorry to spoil it for you. Honestly, I guess when I finished college I thought I was done with that part. Boy was I WRONG! As an Instructional Coach at Millville Area School District, I have realized that learning and reflecting go hand in hand and is a must when teaching anyone. Gamification helped me work with teachers by making learning fun, educational and of course meaningful; all while developing their reflections. A few years ago, I was able to attend a PIIC conference with other coaches from around the state. Rebecca Gibboney was presenting on Gamification, the moment I heard her talk about it I was hooked! That’s where Gamification came in for me

Somehow, I found myself stuck in a teaching rut where it wasn’t as fun as it used to be, especially now teaching adults. Gamification has changed my outlook on how to work with and teach, both adults and students. My first game was during the Olympics, so my theme followed suit. I have to be honest, at first some teachers did kick and scream. But that actually helped, because others saw how ridiculous that was and worked harder at the game. It became a great way to build teams and encourage others, not to mention egging them on a bit in some friendly competition. We also had unexpected teachers step up and shine. They now help me get others motivated and lead within. 

So, I know you’re wondering how do you get started, right? I have a few easy steps for you to follow which will help you with the key areas.

1st: Find out what your district goals are for your teachers to focus on. 

2nd: Pick a Theme; maybe sports, a season or holiday, your choices are endless.

3rd: How will you present this to your teachers? Will it be face to face, team meetings, emails, or a faculty meeting?

4th: How will you collect reflections? Always make sure your asking your teachers to reflect on what they are doing. Make sure you gather this information. It’s a great way to start conversations and help to deepen the reflections.

5th: How will you be grouping teachers or making teams?

6th: How long will your challenge last?

7th: How many will win?

8th: What is the Prize?

We have a Golden Unicorn Trophy that travels to the winner(s). Then when we start a new game, I get it back and give to the new winner(s). I always give other prizes as well. I want my teachers to know how much their work is appreciated. 

If you want to up your game in either teaching adults or students, I highly recommend Gamification. It has breathed new life into me as a professional and I don’t know where I would be without it. A special thank you to Rebecca Gibboney for inspiring me to try Gamification. I know she will inspire you too with her book, The Tiebreaker.

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