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

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  • 20 Mar 2013 9:59 PM
    Reply # 1248045 on 1238947
    Susan Hillman
    In working with pre-service teachers, I have them each teach two lessons from different grade levels (2 of the following levels--K-2, 3-5, 6-8) one during the first half of the semester and one during the last half.  Each lesson is video-taped and they must reflect on how they did and then I provide a scripted lesson with detailed feedback.  I think this is incredibly powerful BUT it takes a tremendous amount of time. I do not know how this could occur in the schools with everyone straight out as it is--but you do need a coach who can help teachers stretch and reflect.  So I agree with his idea of video-taped lessons but it is time-consuming and every semester about now, I think I must be crazy setting up the class this way:>)

    It is such a strong pull to return to how you were taught, and I believe teachers must have a solid understanding of math in order to teach more problem-based, so maybe with this faculty seminars would be instrumental.  
  • 21 Mar 2013 1:38 PM
    Reply # 1248656 on 1238947
    Deleted user
    Shawn Towle wrote: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? 
    In our department we are creating our lessons together and then evaluating them in our courses after we have tried them. We are going to talk about what went well for each of us and how we can make some changes. 
    I think the best leadership move for my department is "Granting permission." We have been using that language a lot because many are hesitant about doing something different from what we have always done for fear of failure. We are talking a lot about taking risks and giving ourselves permission to put our best effort forward and have to reevaluate when something isn't going well.
    The biggest obstacle for us is insufficient time. It seems we always have so much to do, but not enough time to do it. To remedy this, we are working very hard to stay on task and make movement toward the goal. As the department leader, I am setting clear goals and letting them now what I expect for the "end" product is at each meeting.
  • 21 Mar 2013 7:24 PM
    Reply # 1248975 on 1238947
    Tom Light
    There has been a tremendous amount of good discussion to (last) week's prompt.  I guess that's an advantage of posting late.  I would like to bounce back some of my SAD 17 colleagues comments.

    Kathy and Evelynn mentioned the workshop day that was facilitated by our volunteer Common Core math transition team.  I agree it was a very worthwile morning and we will be continuing the work next year.  I complained to Kathy (and others) that I was fooled into commiting to helping facilitate this meeting for the sixth grade (I thought I was signing up for a couple hours in the afternoon once a month to consider the CC and my class and planning time!  It was an opportunity to be treated with dignity and professionalism that I believe all the presenters appreciated.  And, Kathy, let's face it, you helped a lot by finding some great resources, including videos, to share.  The collaborative work of the transition team was a very valuable opportunity for PD work.

    Tracey mentioned the highlight of teaching together last year.  I learned a tremendous amount by working with her on a daily basis and being able to watch her plan and teach.  The administration allowing the flexibility so we could do this as an alternate way of meeting student intervention needs demonstrates our administration's commitment to fostering collaboration. 

    Years ago, when I came to Maine to teach at SAD #39, each faculty member was involved in colleague observation.  I believe that each month we had a day to observe be observed by a troika of colleagues and to share our observations and reflections.  I know that many of my peers at SAD #39 considered this one of the best PD opportunities they had ever had.  I believe that instituting a system of peer observation and reflection is a powerful learning opportunity.

    Finally, I would like to address time.  Yes, we can and do make time for what we prioritize.  That being said, I am embarassed to say that the evidence would indicate that I prioritize my family and self below my profession.  I have spent money I should have put toward my child's education into books for my students.  Worse than that, I have limited the time I spend with my family and nurturing myself because of the demands of my job.  It is not enough to say that we will find time if we value and believe in the work.  Dignity?!
  • 24 Mar 2013 9:06 PM
    Reply # 1250867 on 1238947
    Peggy Brown
    Shawn Towle wrote: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? 
    At my middle school, we are very fortunate to have time at each grade level every week to meet and plan. We also have 2 Wednesday morning late start meetings which can be used for 6-8 whole group or grade level as needed. Lately we've been meeting more as the multi level group as we try to understand the CCSS and the changes we'll need to implement. At the same time we are working toward customization as well. It was comforting to read Gillian's remarks about needing to see this modeled, as we are also struggling with how to achieve a balance of customization and continue to provide the rich problem solving environment we've come to value.  

    We've been working for some time on good quality professional learning and I am very grateful to be  among teachers who value each other's insights and abilities, treat each other with dignity and respect, feel comfortable giving and taking.  We no longer hide behind closed doors, though we need to work harder to get to that point where we "collegially review videos of (our) lessons".  

    The section of this chapter that resonates most strongly with me is the bit on "Quality"...
    "consider shared models of excellence.  You see a strong vision of teaching and learning, a library of well developed and validated lesson plans, annotated videos of quality instruction and exemplars of student work."
  • 31 Mar 2013 6:29 PM
    Reply # 1255716 on 1238947
    Maureen Brown
    Our district has set aside time for teachers to  collaborate, discuss and plan but very few teachers take the time to do so with same subject colleagues. At this level there is a good deal of planning with a team mate but grade level same subject planning rarely happens. 
    I guess we can celebrate the opportunity, and mourn the fact that we do not take enough advantage of the wonderful chance to work as a team, share lessons or observe one another. People are ready to jump all over errors but do not celebrate successes - perhaps because we do not talk about successes often enough.

    The part of the chapter that struck me was the last page where "Accountability" is discussed. The idea that much of the problems are due to today's kids, parents or both. Striving to provide lessons that are engaging, that have interesting tasks rather than "drill and kill." Perhaps this would help with the fourth statement that discusses holding oneself accountable for the students' learning if they simply try even a little - there is the never ending circle...engaging lessons, kids try, teacher accountable - more engaging lessons....etc, etc, etc.  I am going to attempt to hold on to that statement and consider it my mantra for the last quarter of the year.
  • 07 Apr 2013 9:22 AM
    Reply # 1262167 on 1244929
    Sally Bennett
    Jenny Jorgensen wrote:In response to the reading of Chapter 6: Recognizing and Overcoming Obstacles, I feel very fortunate to work where I work and with whom I work.  There is a vision about education in our school district and the work that we do is guided by this vision. We have collaboration at each grade level; teachers teach a parallel curriculum.  The teachers have weekly, common planning time where they plan for the following week, discuss student work, score student work, review upcoming assessments, etc. It's an environment very far removed from the isolation feeling that some teachers feel or have felt in the past.
    I agree with Steve's discussion about math teachers and that the teaching of mathematics is different from other subjects. What we teach and how we teach mathematics should be different that it was 20 years ago. I remember the discussion with a parent, who at one point in the discussion said, "It was good enough for me, I learned it." I wanted to ask him how many students "it" wasn't good enough for; something we probably didn't know about our classmates.
    Obstacles to change are thankfully not an issue, for the most part, at our school. As I've mentioned above, our teachers work collaboratively and we have support.  The idea about insufficient time is interesting. I remember hearing the DuFours speak and their comment about paying attention to how we use the time we do have. I find that, I and a group of teachers can accomplish a lot when we set our sights on accomplishing specific goals; this often includes an agenda and some ground rules for how we will work together.
    With my position, Lead Teacher, the district has invested in providing teachers with in-class professional development, curriculum instruction support, and an opportunity to co-teach or observe a demonstration lesson. We meet, not as often as I'd like, as a math learning area group about four times a year.
    I am a bit alarmed with Steve's comment, "Leaders need to give colleagues premission to skip unnecessary lessons or even whole chapters in textbooks..." pg. 83. I think I'm alarmed because this might lead to very different learning experiences for students in the same grade level.  We want students to progress to the next grade level with common mathematical knowledge. Steve's comment might be less alarming if we weren't already using current curricular materials. In purchasing these materials, it was made very clear that we were NOT to skip lessons or keep our "old favorites" as we learned to teach with the new materials. I wonder if this sentence hit a chord with others.
    Jenny - I am just getting caught up on reading and then post reading.  I really appreciate your comment paraphrasing the DuFours about paying attention to the time we do have.  Like you, I am blessed by exceptional colleagues and a mostly supportive environment in which to teach.  My standard excuse has been lack of time but perhaps I should re-examine my priorities to generate the time for what is truly meaningful.
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