Monday, August 29, 2011

Resources for Staff Development

A blog post by Elliot Seif from ASCD’s the Edge caught my eye today. The author lists a variety of journal articles that support staff development for a variety of purposes e.g. assessment, change process, curriculum, instructional practices etc.…. The articles listed can be found in the ASCD archives for members.

Journal articles become a resource for studying and reflecting on our profession, developing teacher background knowledge and nurturing life learning. If we want students that are life long learners, we need teachers that are life long learners. Utilize your membership by diving into a few of the suggested articles and share/discuss them with colleagues.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Teacher Leaders

I was catching up on some professional reading last week and was excited to come across Teacher Leader Model Standards showcased in the June 2011 issue of Journal of Staff Development. I then checked out the online resources at www.teacherleaderstandards.org.  Here are a few quotes from the Teacher Leader Standards website and full document:
“Within every school there is a sleeping giant of teacher leadership”
“We must seek to use the expertise that already exists in the teaching force”
“The teacher leader model standards can be used to guide the preparation of experienced teachers to assume leadership roles such as resource providers, instructional specialists, curriculum specialists, classroom supporters, learning facilitators, mentors, school team leaders, and data coaches” (Harrison & Killion, 2007).
Here is a sneak peek of the Teacher Leader Standards.
  • Domain I: Fostering a collaborative culture to support educator development and student learning.
  • Domain II: Accessing and using research to improve practice and student achievement.
  • Domain III: Promoting professional learning for continuous improvement.
  • Domain IV: Facilitating improvements in instruction and student learning.
  • Domain V: Using assessments and data for school and district improvement.
  • Domain VI: Improving outreach and collaboration with families and community.
  • Domain VII: Advocating for student learning and the profession.
Specific functions are then further delineated under each domain making this a very useful document for both developing and acknowledging the contributions teacher leaders can make. Check http://www.teacherleaderstandards.org/ for more information.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Inquiry

rubin vase

According to wikipedia, negative space is defined, in art, as “the space around and between the subject(s) of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space is occasionally used to artistic effect as the "real" subject of an image. The use of negative space is a key element of artistic composition.” In other words the absence of color can be very powerful.

This seems like a good analogy for the power of the inquiry process. In other words, as facilitators we do not need to color every question or comment with our own experience, thoughts or expertise. There is wisdom in saying or telling less. We can use our content knowledge to ask deep questions and solicit wisdom from our participants. This will ultimately have more impact on our audience because they can reflect and internalize information more efficiently.

It is a difficult balance. I know I struggle frequently with implementing this stance towards learning. The negative space analogy helps me remember that facilitation is a work of art and takes lots of practice.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Every Educator Should Watch

 

Over the break, I watched, Waiting for “Superman,” a documentary analyzing the failures of the American public education system. The film is a tangle of facts, figures and emotional stories of children and their families. It’s bold, matter of fact, and compelling.

Do they have it right? Do the facts have merit?

I am urging each and every educator to watch this film and draw their own conclusions because policy-makers and community members certainly are…..

Friday, April 8, 2011

Winning Webinar

One might think my lack of webinar facilitation experience, five total, would limit the potential for profound insight…. but in truth, I think it’s my lack of experience that might be beneficial. I have no special technology degrees, no formal training in webinar facilitation. In other words, if I can do it, anyone can do it.

Here are my Lessons Learned:

  • Just do it – No substitute for experience. No amount of planning will completely remove those butterflies.
  • Use Familiar Content – New content and a new format is a recipe for stress.
  • Script it Out – I write out exactly what I am going to say. I put everything in the notes section of the PPT.
  • Team up – Work with a moderator & meet with them ahead of time. Run through your presentation, ask for suggestions on how to embed interactive activities.
  • Interact with your Audience – Every 10 to 15 minutes have an interactive activity.. Questioning – smiley faces, polling, chat box – response to questions. Something, anything to get folks involved.
  • Keep it Up – After your first webinar, do another and then another … it does get easier.

With careful planning you can transform what might otherwise be a sterile environment into an interactive and engaging learning experience for both you and your participants!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Relationships and Technology

We are rapidly moving forward with a vision to augment our face to face professional learning opportunities for teachers and administrators. The goal is to provide learning opportunities in multiple formats including podcasts, webinars, videoconferencing, multimedia videos, etc…

Our staff has been receptive, but there is a reluctance, maybe it is a sense of loss. Hord & Hall indicate grief is often mistaken for resistance. Working alone at your computer to facilitate a webinar or podcast can seem sterile – no immediate feedback, no eye contact or body language to help you gauge audience reaction. 

It has given me pause to think about the role of technology and whether or not it is taking away from relationship building which is essential to our role as educational consultants at a regional service agency. As I was contemplating, I received a few emails in response to a webinar I facilitated:

Reactions from participants following webinar 3

“On a personal note, I must share that out of ALL the webinars I have attended over the past four years, your webinar was the most organized and interactive.  You did a wonderful job keeping the pace of the presentation, interacting with us, and answering questions.  You definitely have your planning nailed down.  Fantastic job Kelly!”  - Assistant Superintendent

“I was sold on Reading Apprenticeship at the webinar.  It answered my questions and addressed the hesitations I had.  I have approval from the one of our HS buildings and I am going to get the other building's thoughts today. I will then meet with teachers to get names of interested teachers. I am still planning for the 25th date.  Thank you, the webinar was fantastic.  I needed the information that was provided there in that type of forum.  - Heidi, Social Studies and Literacy Supervisor

“Great webinar!!!  Thanks so much for presenting the material again.” - Julie, Director of Education

I was extremely touched that folks reached out to me in this way, unprompted. Some of these folks I have never met, but have made a connection. Clearly technology can help us build and sustain relationships, but we have to be prepared for a delay in the feedback loop. In the midst of publishing a podcast or during a live webinar, we may not be able to sense our impact, but it does not mean it is not there…

Monday, March 21, 2011

Join Us

Life has been pretty exciting lately, hence my blogging absence. My husband and I, in our infinite wisdom, moved mid school year. Just all kinds of fun with our two children and both us working in education!

In addition, I added just a few job responsibilities. I am fortunate to be working with the Strategic Literacy Initiative, part of WestEd, a regional research lab, to coordinate Pennsylvania’s effort with implementing Reading Apprenticeship, an instructional framework to address content area literacy.

Part of my efforts include contributing to their blog. Check out my new post, Report from Winter Conference: Reading Apprenticeship for Students with a Range of Needs.

In the post, I share suggestions and examples regarding overcoming the challenging literacy needs that students sometimes bring to the high school level. What do you think? Can these ideas work?

Monday, January 24, 2011

More Root Cause Stories

There was such a great response to the Dwindling Owl Population in India root cause story that I decided to share a few more.

We were initially inspired by Paul Preuss’ book, School Leaders Guide to Root Cause Analysis. He had some sample root cause stories within his book. We kicked off our event with the Boat Accident example. We have participants read the story and then brainstorm root cause. What’s interesting is that folks almost always blame the family – sound familiar? However, if we stop our problem-solving with the family, nothing changes. If we start to see the organization, in this case the coast guard as culpable, is there a chance victims from a future boating accident will be saved?

The point is once we as educators take responsibility for student learning outcomes and focus solutions on items within our circle of influence, we can greatly impact results.

Inspired by the Preuss’ book, we created a few of our own:

Roseto – story centers on the importance of relationships (thanks to Sue Kinney)

Gotham City – RtII and large district reform

Korean Airlines – importance of communication and common language

Thomas Jefferson Memorial – Five Whys (recommended by Don Burkins)

Click here to view our root cause resources. Scroll down to see the examples. Please share your own resources and ideas!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Social Dimension

image

In my last post, I shared an article by Ed Week that highlighted the nonacademic skills needed for college and career success. The article brought me back to the framework for Reading Apprenticeship, an approach to adolescent literacy. The framework is posted to the right.

When I was first introduced to the Reading Apprenticeship framework my initial thought was the social and personal dimensions were just like cotton candy…. looks good, tastes good, but not much substance.

I have come to realize how very wrong I was. In fact, the personal and social dimensions are the very strength of the model.

Look to the framework and ask yourself … Where do secondary teachers live?

Where do students live?

Most educators would say secondary teachers are focused on knowledge-building, while most say students value the social dimension over the others.

It just is not realistic to think we will inspire deep content knowledge without valuing individual students and their need for social interaction. Conversely if we leverage student needs, we can create stimulating and challenging classrooms which honor the learning as well as the learner.

The framework showcases how ideas such as perseverance, teamwork, & dependability – key skills that are indicators of college and career success, are emphasized in conjunction with content knowledge.