Week 8 (March 8-14) Chapter 6: Recognizing and Overcoming Obstacles

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   Next >  Last >> 
  • 10 Mar 2013 12:43 PM
    Message # 1238947
    Anonymous
    Reading:  pp 76-85

    Prompt:   In this chapter, Steve states that "What constitutes good instruction for our students is also what constitutes effective professional development for our colleagues."

    How are you working toward good quality, meaningful professional learning in your setting?   Which of the leadership move(s) strike you as the most realistic for you to pursue in your setting and with your colleagues?  What obstacles to change are you trying to overcome? 
  • 11 Mar 2013 7:54 AM
    Reply # 1239471 on 1238947
    Nancy Sirois
    How are you working toward good quality, meaningful professional learning in your setting? Which of the leadership move(s) strike you as the most realistic for you to pursue in your setting and with your colleagues? What obstacles to change are you trying to overcome?

    When our school first adopted Trailblazer Math we spent an incredible amount of time on professional development.  We all committed to the program and gave ourselves permission to vent, take things slow and work as a team to navigate a new approach to math.  It took a lot of our professional learning time for the year and we knew we had to commit to it the next year as well.  It made all the difference in the world.  It took about 3 years to get everyone on board and up to speed and now, it's like we never had any other program.

    Now, with more and more responsibilities coming our way, our professional development time tends to be all over the place.  One week we have ELL training, the next we look at data, the next is writing....you know the drill.  When we have a strong focus and a commitment to meaningful professional learning, it makes a big difference.  In the book Leinwand says that teachers will find the time for what they value and need to find time to do.  When there is a "collegial commitment" to making change, time isn't as much of an obstacle.

    We need to find a better way to build professional learning communities.  First, some things have to be taken off the table.  We can't have meaningful learning when there are 3 or 4 or 5 different initiatives.  Pick one for the year and really focus on it.  Hold staff accountable for the learning.  The last paragraph of the chapter says it allLearning is a socially mediated process.  A collaborative foundation must be built and there must be sufficient support, a positive learning culture and meaningful accountability for change occur.

  • 12 Mar 2013 7:32 AM
    Reply # 1240443 on 1238947
    Mary Belisle
    The very best of professional development is what seems to be threatened by ongoing budget concerns.
    In our school we are fortunate to have many professionals that have taught together for many years. In weekly meetings on content, discussion have evolved from trying to understand a new book series to how to best teach every concept on every page. It takes a while to build the trust with one another and the familiarity with the content to have these rich discussions. These discussions more than anything help to keep my teaching on track. 
    In a tight (and getting tighter) budget year, the release time to do this well is threatened. Larger class sized , more duties and fewer in a coaching position in the building can serious impact the education of the children involved. 
  • 12 Mar 2013 10:15 AM
    Reply # 1240535 on 1238947
    Deleted user

    How are you working toward good quality, meaningful professional learning in your setting?  

     

    In my district professional development for the past few years has pretty much been nonexistent. The budget gets frozen in October or November so that even the money allocated for PD is not spent on PD. Then the School Board sees we were able to get through the year without the money and they believe we didn’t need the money to begin with. What they don’t understand is the backward slide this has created – impacting climate, curriculum, instruction and ultimately, student learning. Very recently the district seems to be in an upward swing – positions have not been cut this year for the first time in a few years. We are lucky to have early release Wednesdays where some ongoing professional development takes place – depending on the knowledge and skills of the PLC facilitator. The district hired a secondary level literacy coach and math coach this year. These positions are beginning to have an impact on professional learning. I am looking forward to seeing how these positions will be utilized and the long-term impact this opportunity can provide.

     

    Which of the leadership move(s) strike you as the most realistic for you to pursue in your setting and with your colleagues? 

     

    I see myself pursuing all five leaderships moves depending on which school I am in for the day and which group of teachers I am working with. Some teachers I am building a rapport with so we are at the dignity level. I am often in classrooms, many of which also have special ed or ELL support, so teachers are beginning to feel more comfortable having other adults in their classrooms. I collaborate with people constantly – I can’t really do any part of my job without it. I would say quality suffers a bit because teachers feel pressed for time so we don’t always get to have the rich, reflective conversations I would like to have.  I also try to shift thinking from blaming the teachers who came before to a “this is where our students are so what can we do to make the students’ math experience the best it can be.” If I had to choose one to focus on I would focus on this last one.

     

    What obstacles to change are you trying to overcome? 

     

    Sometimes it is difficult to remember that change takes time. As mentioned above,  the district is clawing its way back to having the positions we once had but the lack of resources and PD is still an issue.  I completely agree with Steve when he said, “ Without support in the face of misguided complaints of a few vocal parents, few teachers will change. Without support for quality professional development and time for sharing ideas and practices, little change is possible, and without the support for calculators, computers, and newer instructional materials, change is nearly impossible. Although beliefs and will are more important than money, without a reasonable financial investment – the most tangible form of support – little change is likely.” (p. 79) If teachers do not feel supported, they will not take risks and change will not occur – unfortunately the most obvious way teachers feel support is through financial means – not in salaries, although that is nice, but having the resources, time, and professional development they need.

  • 12 Mar 2013 9:35 PM
    Reply # 1241148 on 1238947
    Michele Mailhot

    Steve's final statement on page 85 sums it all up for me in regards to leadership:

     

    "In other words: Until and unless we are treated - and we treat each other- with dignity and respect, there will not be enough trust for transparency. Until and unless we have much greater transparency and openness (a mind-set that we can learn from each other), there are few incentives to collaborate. Until and unless we collaborate and remember that learning (our students' as well as our own) is a socially mediated process, it is unlikely we will significantly improve the overall quality of our work. And until and unless this foundation is built, there is insufficient support and in inadequate culture for meaningful accountability that ensures that every student who tries has the opportunity to learn."

     

    If all the pieces are not present, we will succeed! So I must do my best to have all aspects of leadership present in my daily work!

     

    When it comes to professional learning I would have to say that the different examples would have to be used based on the conditions of the learning opportunity.

  • 13 Mar 2013 3:07 PM
    Reply # 1241918 on 1238947
    Michele LaForge
    I think we are in situations similar to those of the other people I hear here.  (here here!)  Sorry, long day.  In any case, I do agree that change needs an investment of time, not just pd time but also just giving things a chance to happen.  3 year commitments to change is really important.  Given that budgets are tough though, and pd time is shrinking, one statement in particular seems to me that it provides us an opening that is relatively low cost compared to positive results.

    This, this! truly struck me.  I haven't stopped thinking about it:

    We know that people do not grow and organizations do not change when they are isolated.  The professional isolation of most educators is frequently cited as the most serious impediment to improving curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  Most teacher practice their craft behind closed doors, minimally aware of what their colleagues are doing, unusally unobserved and undersupported.  Far too often, teachers' frames of reference are how they were taught, now how their colleagues are teaching.

    This is true so true for many math teachers at the secondary level.  It may be true for elementary school level as well but I can't speak to that.  I see it ALL the time.  Many people are teaching as they were taught. Not always bad, but there is no thought there, no deliberative process.  I will be working to advocate for greater transparency, for us to use some of the time we are given to be in each other's classes.  ALL the time.  For all kinds of reasons.  Short and long visits.  Ones where we participate, ones where we just watch.  Doesn't that sound fun and good and potentially so helpful?

    Michele
  • 14 Mar 2013 11:45 PM
    Reply # 1243186 on 1238947
    Pam Meader

    I feel so fortunate that I left the k-12 arena and have spent the last 25 years in adult education.  We have very little resources but we are the most collaborative group of teachers.  We are fortunate that our schedules have some flexibility given that we teach day and night.  Since our program has grown to the largest in the state, we have taken on many initiatives as an entire school and also within our departments.  Our focus is usually through a book study, much like this one, where we read, discuss and try to improve our practice.  Last year we pursued the book “Teach Like a Champion” and collaborated cross discipline and then within our discipline trying strategies in our classroom.  Within my math department, we also support each other in trying new activities, new strategies and new textbooks.  We meet monthly with some focus in mind whether it be Common Core, using manipulatives, or developing a new curriculum.  I think the strength of our professional development is developing a “community of learners” as Steven Leinward suggested in the reading.

  • 15 Mar 2013 7:31 AM
    Reply # 1243326 on 1238947
    Maggie Griswold
    Rhonda Fortin's response was a very "field-based" face for the reading material this week. The response is both a great case study and picture of positive thinking in a time of change.

    I would like to reinforce this comment of Rhonda's in particular concerning obstacles:

    Without support for quality professional development and time for sharing ideas and practices, little change is possible, and without the support for calculators, computers, and newer instructional materials, change is nearly impossible.

  • 15 Mar 2013 9:33 AM
    Reply # 1243387 on 1238947
    Ruth Neagle
    The most beneficial professional development  I have ever participated in were on-line refresher courses in calculus.  Leinwand agrees that "teachers need to confront their own learning needs" (p. 81) before even thinking about how to modify, adapt, or expand, or completely overhaul content and curriculum.  I feel very strongly that in order to make decisions at the elementary and middle levels of math education one must have knowledge about what students will face as they advance.  How can one say that it is unnecessary to tackle more than 1 digit divisors or fractions with denominators of 7 or 9 (p. 82) without some depth of knowledge of rational functions and algebraic division?   Thus, as a high school teacher, I would very much appreciate the time and support for learning (or re-learning) college level mathematics and innovations.  
  • 16 Mar 2013 8:44 AM
    Reply # 1244111 on 1238947
    Gillian Laird Sleeper

    How are you working toward good quality, meaningful professional learning in your setting?   Which of the leadership move(s) strike you as the most realistic for you to pursue in your setting and with your colleagues?  What obstacles to change are you trying to overcome? 

     

    In my setting, we are exploring Mass Customized Learning.  Some, but not all, staff are attending workshops with Bea McGarvey periodically throughout the school year.  (I just attended one yesterday).  The district, as well as the state, hope to transform the “structure” of instruction.  I believe in the vision.  I feel as an early elementary teacher that I am not sure where to start with the grade level that I teach.  How much can 4 and 5 year old students actually manage independently?  How does the structure of MCL begin?

    I would like to pursue MCL by observing other elementary schools in the state and to experience how they are implementing the change in their districts and in their lower level schools.  I would love to be able to begin a more customized education plan in the coming school year, but I am still completely “fuzzy” on how to do it in my classroom and grade level.  That is my mission right now and to also get my grade level teachers on board with the change.  (That can sometimes be the biggest obstacle!)

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   Next >  Last >> 
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software