Week 22: Differentiation…for staff? #SAVMP Feb 10

“Supporting teachers begins with knowing that we should meet their individual needs in their own learning and growth. We no longer can be ok with the status quo, or a one size fits all mentality when it comes to PD. As the leader, it is up to you ensure that each educator has what they need in order to be the very best that they can be in their classroom.”

If you really want teachers to take professional development seriously, you have to let them set their own agenda.

This seems to be difficult for many leaders to accept.  I think it is the most basic of questions – what do you want to learn – and with that – how can I best support you.

 If we teach social skills to a target group then will we see an increase in self-regulation and positive social interactions outside of the classroom, within the target group (s).

resource teacher triad

 I have written about this before and I welcome the opportunity to do it again for the #SAVMP blog. It is more by accident than design that we started using a model that allows teachers to set their own agenda for professional learning. Three years ago the principals in our group (triad) decided to do our school improvement planning together.

It was hard to figure out at first – none of us had ever done this before, there was no model or guide to follow. I think one of the most important elements was, and continues to be the support we received from the school board. This was new to them too, but they were willing to let us try this new model out.

Over the past three years the teams have changed and we have learned a great deal. We still plan together and we have gotten a lot better at recording our learning. We have a great respect for the inquiry approach and have followed the learning stance of our board that encourages teachers to ask questions about how students learn.

If we continue to solidify their ability to communicate about math through the use of math journals in support with conferencing, then they should be able to demonstrate their learning.

grade 4,5,6 math inquiry

Teachers now keep a running record of their inquiries in a Google Drive document called Evidence of Learning. I am drawing inquiry statements from this document for today’s blog. This document allows the principals in our group to have a good understanding of what teachers are working on.  With an app called Kaizena, we can actually leave audio comments for each group in their evidence of learning section.

There nothing cooler than being able to talk about the learning plans of teachers in three schools!  As principals, we are active participants in the learning, but the teachers are in control of the process.

Having said that, I really feel an obligation to keep a careful record of what they are learning this term. I was able to do some of this last term and I have blogged about some of the really interesting work the math and French teachers were doing. Now I really need to get the rest of the groups!

Through the month of April, I should be able to meet with most of the groups and add the results of their inquiries to the blog!

Through this process, we feel we are giving the teachers the opportunity to set their own agenda.  We will continue to do this and teachers will continue to learn and grow.  I think this is the very best that we can do for the teachers we work with.

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Teacher Team inquiries

Stephen Katz emphasizes that the adult learning that takes place in a school should
be directly connected to student need – “Given that we have evidence to suggest X
is the most urgent student learning need, what does that suggest is the most urgent
teacher learning need? And from there, what is the most urgent leader learning
need?” (Leaders in Educational Thought, 2013). Student learning is the catalyst for
educator learning and “forms the essential material” of professional inquiry (Capacity
Building Series – Collaborative Teacher Inquiry).
Capacity Building Series :  Dynamic Learning

Our triad teams – three schools – St. Daniel, St. Gregory and St. Monica are starting on our second round of inquiries.  My goal this term is to do a better job of documenting the work that the triads do.  Each group was given a half day last week to review the inquiry from the first term and come up with a new inquiry for the second half of the year.


The videos here are my attempt to capture some of the learning that is happening within the groups.  I am hoping to record the work of some of the groups as the term progresses.

Triad teams working together
Triad teams working together

“If we teach social skills to a target group then will we see an increase in self-regulation and positive social interactions outside of the classroom, within the target group (s).”

special education inquiry

What is most important to the teachers and principals of the triad schools is that we are in charge of the learning.  When teachers are able to create their own inquiries, they are the ones setting the agenda, they are the ones who develop the ideas for inquiry.  As principals, our job is to facilitate this learning process and make sure that a good record is kept of the results of these inquiries. These inquiries and the findings of the teachers then become the basis for our school improvement plan.

“If we use a graphic organizer to introduce descriptive writing, then the students will be able to write short descriptive paragraphs related to various different areas of the curriculum.”

grade 1-2 inquiry – term two 

Reflect / Discern  Analysis / Assess

How does this change our teaching practice?   What have we learned and discovered? Where to next?  Now what?

It taught us to take our time and move at the students’ pace. It also made us allow time for reflection on new concepts before moving on to something else.  Allows for time to consolidate student learning in more depth than the standard 3 part math lessons.  Looking at the “proof” and “reflection” sections really shows which students are ready to move on and which are not. We are also taking the time to produce quality work with the students rather than simply quantity to get  through the curriculum.

taken from ‘evidence of learning document’ created by grade 4,5,6 teachers’ math inquiry

Over time, we have been able to reach some conclusions:

  • teachers who set their own learning goals are much more motivated to learn
  • teachers are able to clearly indicate inquiry goals and key learnings based on these inquiries
  • over time, a much wider variety of evidence is being used to document learning
  • communication tools like Google Drive and Google+ are indispensable tools that drive deeper collaboration
  • as principals, we have a much better understanding of what learning is going on in our schools

This is an important process to document, as a firm believer in this process I will devote more time this term to keeping a good, visual record here on this blog of the work that will be going on.

It will be an exciting journey!

Research shows that teachers working together to support children’s
learning is an effective means of teacher professional development.7,8,9
Professional learning communities (PLCs) facilitate knowledge sharing
and collaboration – often with experts in the area – to support teacher
professional learning.10 Features of effective PLCs include job-embedded
learning, group meetings held during the workweek and use of technology.11
What Works?  Research into practice Research monograph #46
students working on math journals - part of the grade 4-5-6 math inquiry
students working on math journals – part of the grade 4-5-6 math inquiry
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Teacher collaboration project – Math journals

journal

I have written briefly about one of the teacher collaboration inquiries that has been going on in our three schools.  In this post, the teachers have written an explanation of their work so far.  I am hoping that more of our teacher groups will do the same so we can post their work on this blog.

These rest of this entry is written by Teresa Zappavigna, one of the teacher triad members.

Our Triad team came together in early October to determine an area of focus for our students in our junior grades.  After examining EQAO scores, last year’s records, and our personal running records to date, our next steps became quite evident.  The attitude toward math and in particular, problem solving, needed to be addressed. Many times, students have the skills, but are thrown by the math language.  Students needed to find a tool to help students break down math  problems (scaffold their thinking) in order to understand:  “What do I know?”; “What do I need to know?”;  and “How can I help solve the problem/ What strategies can I use?”. A tool was introduced by our partners from St. Daniel’s.  They were in the process of working on interactive Math journals which help guide a student’s problem- solving process and encourages them to demonstrate their understanding of new math concepts in a personal and creative way (through re-enactment, art, poetry, music, crossword puzzles, etc.,).  Our intention is that if we explicitly teach problem solving strategies and provide opportunities for students to prove, explain and reflect on their learning in Math journals, then students will have more success in explaining their thinking while problem solving.  By allowing students the opportunity to express themselves creatively (be it literacy, numeracy, arts, verbal, kinesthetic, tactile,) we hope to make math fun for students who shy away from math.

We are still in the process of developing a routine using these journals with our students.  Our observations so far have been positive.  Students have been eager to share their rap songs, cartoons etc with the class and are often asking the teachers if we will be working on our “journals today”.  The atmosphere is changing and we hope to continue these “brag books” as a tool to help students develop efficient problem solving strategies.

Video of a student conference…Please watch both (one is the continuation of the other) In this video, teachers can see the importance of conferencing with students on their journals, EVEN if the student puts a GREEN traffic light on the activity. He or she might not fully understand the concept. The example is a student working on Place Value activities.

samples and photos from the teacher inquiry

 

math journal - grade 4

 

Sample of a grade 4 journal – this is a collaborative project in grades 4, 5, and 6 being carried out in three schools

Lucy West – Focusing on Student Thinking

Notes on Lucy West session today at our School Board

Symbol1

http://www.metatlcinc.com

How would we know real learning is taking place? seeing student thinking as evidence?

What concerns you about being an instructional leader?

  • need more time to work on learning – more time reserved for PD would help
  • understanding more about what the problem is about grade 6 math scores on EQAO
  • getting a clearer picture – what are the initiatives that truly have an impact on student learning.

First Big Idea:

You can have positional authority but still not be a leader.  70-80% of people in positional authority are not effective – so what makes someone a leader??

How are we going to define leadership?

‘Anyone who wants to help is a leader’

‘leadership is a verb not a job’

the most important tool is influence – everyone has a circle of influence.  Identifying who is in your circle will give you a picture on how you can move a school.

Leadership is something you choose to do some of the time.  There are many informal leaders – if we can influence them we can have greater influence in the school.

Second Big Idea:

What are you passionate about?

Leadership is passionate – if I am willing to put my ideas on the table, if I am willing to say what I am passionate about, you can at least open a dialogue with your teachers.

Do we know what our teachers are passionate about – what do they care about.  You may find common ground if you can find out what they are passionate about.

If you try to impose ideas on people you are going to lose people – can’t do this and be effective.

Vital Smarts – a resource mentioned by Lucy that addresses some of these questions

VitalSmarts is an innovator in corporate training and leadership development.
With award-winning training products based on more than 30 years of ongoing research, we have helped more than 300 of the Fortune 500 realize significant results using a proven method for driving rapid, sustainable, and measurable change in behaviors. We can teach your organization how to:

  • Dialogue safely about any topic
  • Achieve universal accountability
  • Help leaders influence organization-wide behavior
  • Increase employee engagement through self-directed change

The biggest issue in any organization is people NOT speaking up.  What do we do about that?  We need to get people to tell us what they think.

When something doesn’t work well – how do we encourage people to approach us?  When we are willing to do this we can change the culture!

Adaptive challenges cannot be solved by technical solutions – the job is to sort out what really matters.  Do we ask – what really matters?  What are we going to focus on?

Bottom-line purpose – to get kids to learn.  But, no one knows how to reach 100% of the kids 100% of the time – that is an adaptive challenge – we can use technical solutions to change adaptive challenges.  

The materials we have have to be used mindfully. 

Adaptive challenges are solved more through a process – ask questions, innovate, collaborate, work together – all of these practices are adaptive solutions.

Leaders need courage – we need to challenge the status quo.

Raise the taboo issues

point out contradictions

What risk are you willing to take?

Obstacles to Learning – tool for us to use can you identify what your obstacles are?

  • what learning look, feel and sound like?
  • what gets in the way of my learning?
  • how do we create a learning culture in which people become public and reflective and committed learners?

A Fractal – never-ending pattern – how many teachers exhibit the same obstacles to learning that we do?  How many students have the same obstacles?  How many are caused by the nature of the school?

What Happens in your organization when people

  • question authority
  • are skeptical
  • complain about situations attempt to do things differently from the norm

Habits of Mind

taking small steps to build a habit of mind to address the obstacle you have identified.

For me?  Turning off my phone at night!

if you focus on Vital Behaviours you can make the changes you want to make.

to actually hear what kids are saying and following that – this is a key behaviour.

What happens when a student gives an answer – what does the teacher do?  Anything that invites the students to tell what they are thinking about.  Dialogue that emphasizes reasoning, the big idea and critical thinking – that will allow for a student-centered classroom.

How to analyze a math class?

  • Who is doing the talking?  Asking the questions?
  • What’s the focus of the talk?
  • What are the students saying?
  • What happens when someone makes a mistake?

When you focus on discourse – we are learning to listen to each other, consider another’s perspective, how to challenge someone in a respective fashion – it means learning to work collaboratively with others.

We need to have a questioning culture (Fullan) where it is OK to make mistakes.  To be able to sit in the place of uncertainty more comfortably.

We attend to results, but not the culture and behaviour we need to have to bring about changes.

what questions might people use when they are thinking critically?

  • how do you know that
  • what is your source of information?
  • what evidence do you have, what further evidence do you need?
  • how might I be wrong about this?

mindset – the problem especially math, is that the teachers do not have the content knowledge – what do we need?

learn math from people who can teach they way they need to teach their children – not a one-shot idea.  This needs to be teachers working in teams to develop vital behaviours.

In your class, how do you us questioning?  What would happen if you the principal spent a week just listening to what questions teachers use?

lesson planning – to solve a problem look for as many ways to solve a problem as possible – this way you can predict what students will come up with.

The Turkey Problem – 24lb. turkey – 15 minutes per lb. how long to cook the turkey – why is this a rich task at grade 3?  Because they haven’t been taught to do this yet and different units. Specifically:

  • prior to any teaching of multiplication algorithms
  • sharing student work after students have solved the problem
  • teacher deliberately determines the order in which selected partners will share
  • thinking is visible

also, see this earlier post on math

Emphasis on the student doing the talking rather than the teacher.

The basic talk moves:

  • turn and talk
  • tell me more about that?
  • who can repeat that?

These three techniques can shift the culture in the classroom

turn and talk

Points on accountable talk :

  • use accountable talk asap
  • remind students to use each others name when talking
  • concentrate on big ideas
  • plan with others
  • have students turn and talk about the concept
  • daily expectations …tech explicitly
  • go back to students to clarify

this is not a natural skill –

what the teacher observed:

  • students not afraid to make mistakes
  • students willing to challenge each other
  • kids are coming to class
  • students writing notes in their own words

If the teacher is willing and ready this is what can happen!

Where to go from here?  I need to get into more math classes to see what really is happening at our school!!

post #ecoo13 where do we go from here?

  • keep yourself in the role of the learner

  • tell your story: be visible, live out loud, create value, leverage video and social media, reflect and blog 

  • stay connected

  • consider frameworks such as the SAMR model as an ongoing change model 

  • consider the power of students teaching students through video

  • nurture those around you

Mark Carbone, President ECOO

bringit_textonlybadge_transparent

 

These are all great ways to move forward from this point.  I consider myself very fortunate to have received such great PD over the past six months.  The CASA conference in July, Will Richardson @willrich45 at our Director’s Conference and of course #ECOO13.

I have to thank my superintendent Simone Oliver @SimoneROliver and our IT guru Rob Long @longrwr for giving me these wonderful opportunities!  Now, I need to keep the learning going.

For one thing, I have to go back to lanyard and collect more information from the workshops I attended – I will go back and add this to the posta already up.

Next, what do I do when I return to school?

One idea.  I loved the Minds on Media session.  I had great conversations with teachers and I learned about cool apps

I would like to make the rest of this year a Minds on Media session.  

Our teachers are doing great things every day.  They use Raz Kids, Dream Box, mathletics, Edmodo, Edublog, Kidblog, Blogger.  They use iPads, netbooks and now Chromebooks.  They are doing incredible things all the time.

On top of all that, they work in collaborative teams with teachers from two other schools – they are all involved in really interesting inquiry projects – the first set of projects will be complete by the end of November.

So, this is what I am going to do:

  • make a visual record of the innovative teaching that is going on every day
  • give our staff an audience by posting their work here on this blog
  • create a visual record of the work of our triads – journey with them through their inquiries
  • celebrate, encourage, support, serve and learn from our teachers

This is such a challenging time for teachers – every day they are confronted with some new form of technology.  They are being asked to change their teaching methodology to support an entirely new learning environment.  They are being asked not to deliver information but to create intelligence out of the mass of information our students now have access to.

Has there ever been a more challenging time – I would say no.

So what do I need to do?  See myself as the lead learner in the school and accompany our teachers on the rocky journey to incorporate technology into a new way of teaching – the journey will be rockey because not everything will work – but if you don’t take risks you will never learn, and we are all about learning!

one triad at work - as principal, my role will be to support and accompany them on their learning journey - and of course celebrate!!
one triad at work – as principal, my role will be to support and accompany them on their learning journey – and of course celebrate!!

 

#ecoo Cube for teachers

Cube for Teachers is a collaborative platform designed exclusively for Ontario educators. Here, K-12 teachers are sharing thousands of links pertaining to curriculum-based resources, digital tools and teaching strategies as well as creating powerful PLNs. In this session, teachers will participate in an interactive workshop to fully understand the power of effective collaboration and learn how the features are saving educators valuable time.

Professional bookmarking for teachers - and its free!
Professional bookmarking for teachers – and its free!
  • Based on Ontario curriculum – search by specific topic areas, includes teaching resources
  • search returns ranked by relevance
  • data is current and relevant
  • searches 4 data bases at the same time – Province – Board – Groups – Favourites
  • groups can be any topic and you can invite people in

register at Cubeforteachers.com

Summary:

  • too many resources
  • too many providers
  • not enough time
  • not enough awareness

solution – use this as a resource for finding resources and contributing resources.  When you add a resource, you can tweet about it to create more awareness

David Miller

David.Miller@cubeforteachers.com

1-647-CUBE (2823)

go explore!