Monday, October 22, 2012

Thanks for comments, sharing and a request . . .

I am very thankful for the thoughtful comments to my post on a request for support.  Thank you Jordan and Jonathan for your comments about what we are creating in Tahoma.  I too am proud to be associated with the outstanding educators we have in this school system and your comments affirm our work and are a source of energy for me.

This week brings another opportunity to work with principals and teacher leaders on our Classroom 10 goal.  We have engaged in much reflection and dialogue about our lesson plans, the strategies that we have chosen for support, and the results that we are experiencing.  We continue with our large group, full day learning opportunities and at the same time we are implementing building level support structures in an attempt to differentiate and meet specific needs identified by the principals.

The pace of change on this goal has been troubling as we struggle to find and implement structures and strategies to support all teachers in meeting standard on this goal.  We have learned through this experience just how complex and comprehensive this goal is.  This has been reinforced for me as I dig deeper into the 5D Instructional Model from CEL.  Our key content goal aligns with almost all dimensions of the model and for some dimensions aligns with each of the sub dimensions.

The instructional behaviors this goal requires are for many teachers a significant change to their current practice.  We must find ways to support all teachers in meeting standard on this goal.  For the teachers in my faithful 74 readers, what can we do to provide you with the knowledge, practice, and feedback necessary to make and sustain these research-based instructional practices?


Jonathan said...

This may be a bit off topic, but if you’d allow me to use my particular experience of receiving and implementing new techniques for improved teaching, it may help shed some light on some possible systemic changes.
The area of Classroom 10 I am trying to develop is at the conclusion of my lessons with checks for understanding. Often I find myself rushed at the ends of lessons and the final check is inconsistently applied.
A major reason I feel rushed is because my schedule is so tight. Some students are out of the classroom for reading support to the start day and return approximately at 9:45. This dictates when math must begin. It is not unusual for Math Expressions lessons to last significantly longer than an hour. We have specialist at 11:00, so math must be paused or end then. After recess and before lunch, from 11:45-12:45, math must end (if it hasn’t already) and writing must begin and end. The afternoon schedule includes time when students are out of the class for math intervention and behavior groups, so lessons are constrained within those time frames as well. During the day we face other non-curricular requirements that also dictate scheduling such as library and assemblies.
The challenge I feel is not in understanding, developing, or applying checks for understanding in the Classroom 10 model. In each lesson I am to design checks for understanding that should change what is being taught based on the feedback I receive from the class, and yet still maintain the schedule. The challenge for me is to consistently apply them as I adapt to student feedback and yet still finish the lesson at the right time, staying on pace with the district guidelines, and also including a meaningful conclusion check that I reflect upon and redesign my lessons accordingly. Whew!
One possible support would be an expanded intervention staff to allow increased flexibility in scheduling. This might also include more interventions before and after school. Additionally, a more compact set of curricula could free additional time in the day, allowing the students to go deeper, rather than wider, while also focusing my efforts. Also, a pay raise would help as well. I know my family and I are working more hours than ever to make ends meet. If I received additional pay we could cut back on some of the additional work we have to do and would have more time, both before and after school, to develop additional checks and revise my teaching accordingly. I doubt that I am the only employee in this position.
I hope you find this feedback helpful.

John said...

Today I asked my grade level chair how the leadership training went today. He was very positive and reflective in his response. He said he found it reassuring to see practices from the video lab that reinforce the good teaching practices he witnesses at Rock Creek every day. This was his first time in the Teacher Leadership Institute in some years and he was impressed. He also mentioned that he was actually surprised that we were doing as well as were doing; as if these practices were some kind of mystery to anyone who has not been able to attend the TLI (my words, not his). This was the same feeling I had when I was grade level chair and able to attend these meetings. With the current time restraints and challenges we currently face as a system, I wonder how we can start to provide the same level of training for ALL of our staff that our leaders are receiving to reinforce these teaching practices. They are effective and they work, but they seem to lose some of the effectiveness in translation when presented in small sound bytes (i.e. staff meetings, grade level meetings). Just my thoughts having sat in that position for the last two years, and no longer sitting there.