Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Walking to learn . . .

Thank you to the Lake Wilderness teachers that shared their classrooms today with administrators and teachers from all elementary buildings to further our Classroom 10 learning. As I said yesterday, our goals in this work are to:

• Develop a shared understanding of what key content and checking for understanding looks and sounds like in classrooms.

• Practice sharing data collected in a way that is non-judgmental.

• Use our noticing and wondering to support a building principal and leadership team to consider next steps on the Classroom 10 journey.

We split into six teams for the classroom visits with Teams 1, 2, and 3 seeing the same three teachers over an 80 minute period of time. Teams 4, 5, and 6 did the same with three different teachers. Following the classroom learning walks, we reconvened in two groups depending on which rooms we visited.

In the groups, we first created an understanding of what happened during each team’s learning walk by individuals sharing what was happening during their time in the classroom. We then shared what we had noticed teachers and students doing and saying that was related to key content and checks for understanding and to reference it back to the teaching standards document. In my group, we spent considerable time discussing when checks for understanding are related to the content and when a strategy is more focused on actively engaging students in the learning. This conversation resulted in us not having time to debrief each walk, but it did result in more conversation. Unfortunately the facilitator, me, did not do a check for understanding to determine if all participants left with a common understanding around the issues that surfaced.

Sharing what we noticed was followed by an opportunity for individuals to share their wonderings about what was seen and about the conversations we were having. Using the terms noticing and wondering is designed to support keeping the conversations non-judgmental, something that we were able to do for the most part in our group. My experience led to many wonderings for me. One of mine is; I am wondering if the standards document for key content should include a bullet on referencing previous learning to assist in making key content meaningful for the students.

Some of the other wonderings that emerged include the following.

(From multiple secondary administrators) I am wondering what teachers are doing that result in the group work and engagement seen in the learning walks. And, what happens between elementary and later grades related to group work and engagement.

I am wondering about the balance between checks for understanding related to key content and checks for understanding about teacher directions.

We have much more work to do as we review the standards document and how to use it to support teachers on our journey. Being in classrooms is essential to this work so once again I thank the teachers for allowing us to use their classroom on our learning walks.

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