I write this as a timestamp to look back on later to see how we evolve throughout the year. This is a major part of our professional development this year, probably the single most expensive endeavor, and hopefully the most meaningful as a staff.
The idea is to get 3 substitutes over 18 days, 54 substitutes ($7000+) total and have them cover classes all day so a day of learning can occur for each grade level. At my school each grade level has 3 teachers. Below is the basic schedule of what the day will look like.
So I will explain in bullets:
- The day before the teacher being observed gives the others on the team a description of the lesson to build their understanding so they are not going in cold. They are all same grade level, so concepts should not be too foreign.
- The team observation (Just say, 2nd grade team) (3 teachers). One teacher is teaching, other 2 teachers, coaches (I have 2), myself, etc. are observing and taking scripted notes. No inferences, only descriptive evidence, which can be pictures. The student said.... The teacher asked.... The students were asked to answer the following questions....
- The whole thing is being recorded for the teacher being observed to review later.
- The team of 4-7 people spend 35-45 minutes in the room on the process of taking notes.
- Everyone breaks at 10ish and the teacher that was observed goes and watches the video. We will use a SWIVL to record. This is only for them to build context as to what they did and what they discussed. They should take descriptive evidence of themselves at this time.
- Everyone reconvenes at 1:00 to debrief. We all spend and hour or more talking about our problem of practice within the context of their lesson.
- Problem of Practice - Increasing the cognitive rigor of lessons from recall and comprehension to metacognition, reasoning, creating, analyzing, self-actualizing etc. with an integration of technology that is meaningful. All under the umbrella of addressing standards.
- This debrief is professional and judgement free. It is not about good or bad at all, but what the observed teacher and students did. What were the tasks assigned and accomplished?
- Then how could they have done it differently? If I hear the words good or bad, I freak out and call it out as an inference and we move on.
- This is a diagnosis, that is it! Can not stress this enough. A diagnosis, there is no bad or good! This is the single most important emotional element that has to be facilitated or managed. Then a prescription to improve.
- That is PD, real practice, real conversations, real growth. Not a session, but practice analyzed. I say forget all other forms of PD, this is it. Analyze my job, give me ideas in a nonthreatening environment... please, does it get any better?
- The last part of the day is to reflect, take some time to process, and figure out how to apply immediately.
- We collect data all year on this to measure our growth. We have seen good growth from last year. Here is data from last year and a half
- This is real data with all of 2015 and Spring of 2016 showing with over 100 data points a large decrease in recall/retrieving. You will always need and see comprehension, but I was so happy to see analyzing, reasoning, and the other grow! I was so proud of this work and this data. My staff worked so hard at analyzing their own lessons to think differently.
Has this meant the highest test scores in the state or the district, NO. Has this meant that my staff more fully understand blended learning, they more fully understand lesson design, they more fully understand how kids need to think in the 21st century, they more fully understand how to be creators, facilitators, and educational leaders...
We are playing the long game. To play the long game takes discipline, practice, challenges, and struggle.
I will be spending probably 25% of my budget this year on this process. My staff knows it, or if they did not hear it before, because they were not paying attention, they will know it now. After I share this with them. This is a sacrifice, which I hope to have sponsored by a grant in the future, which we tried for this year, and failed. You are what your budget says you are. I like to think we are continuous improvers, sharers, not afraid of peer feedback, and doing what is necessary to produce experiences for "our kids" that are unparalleled.
Go ahead and ask me for a "link" to any kids learning in my school, and I can give you thousands, any time, from anywhere, from any classroom, maybe more... Just think about that?
If they are just answering questions and nothing more they are not learning. They are regurgitating information. Without explaining and creating, analyzing, reasoning, and using metacognition they are just robots. Why our problem of practice is what it is with the infusion of technology to create those "links" and experiences of learning that are real.