Standard 7: Utilize Instructional Frameworks for Teaching (TPEP) to Improve Teaching

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 1.37.45 PMBefore taking the EDAD 6580 – Leadership in Education course with Dr. Alsbury, I knew very little about leadership theory and leadership styles, other than that which I had experienced and could discuss anecdotally. This course work and connected reflection helped highlight the importance of recognizing that who we are as individuals greatly influences our leadership style and preferences.

In this course I learned that I strongly tend towards Y Theory Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 1.37.49 PMManagement style according to the X-Y Theory Questionnaire. According to the Managerial Grid, I am strongest in the “Sound” managerial style that is characterized by examining what is right versus who is right. However, I also have tendencies toward the “Accommodating” and “Indifferent” styles. According to the Leadership Survey, I demonstrated a tendency towards a high task and high relationship style of leadership, but also with a second tendency to a high relationship and low task style of leadership. This parallels the results from the Managerial Grid and calls attention to weaknesses that can come about from too much emphasis on relationships and not enough follow through regarding high standards and consistently high expectations for everyone in the organization.

According to the Jung Typology Test I am have Introvert Sensing Feeling Perceiving strengths (ISFP), but only just. I scored only 9% introvert, meaning only a slight preference over extroversion, and only a 3% preference of sensing over intuition. However, I had moderate (38%) preference of feeling over thinking, as well as a moderate preference of perceiving over judging. I feel like this Typology test is quite accurate to how I perceive myself, and reflects changes in my adult leadership style, compared to my younger self’s tendencies. According to the Ross-Barger Philosophy Index I align strongest with Existentialist and Pragmatist philosophies.

We looked at the Washington State Leadership Standards (WSP Standards) 6 Washington State Principal Standards (WSP)  and compared them to the Danielson model used in teacher evaluations. A deeper analysis of my strengths and areas for improvement in relation to the WSP Standards can be found here: Leadership Standards Reflection.

Additionally, this course challenged me to look comprehensively at the whole-school vision and culture in a way I had never done before. Much time was spent analyzing the efficacy of data and educational research in this process. My most comprehensive artifact of this work is the Visionary Leadership Analysis.

My most important takeaways were:

  1. Any effective leader, but especially school leaders, must have a well-articulated vision that springs from one’s values and/or spirituality. This vision must be a shared vision with the rest of school stakeholders, although leaders should have some fundamental “non-negotiables” that speak directly to the core values and vision of the school.
  2. Every situation/school/community is unique and requires a different leadership style. Great leaders are able to recognize this, know themselves and their community, and adapt appropriately.

Resources

Owens, R.G., & Valesky, T.C. (2015). Organizational behavior in education: Leadership and school reform (11th ed). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Houston, P.D., Blankstein, A.M., & Cole, R.W. (2008). Spirituality in educational leadership. Thousand Oakes, CA: Corwin.

http://www.k12.wa.us/TPEP/Frameworks/default.aspx

EDU 6600 Communication and Collaboration: Models for Collaboration

Please summarize one or two of the models of collaboration you have learned about so far that you think best align with either- 1- what you would like to see in your school, 2- what you do see in your school AND 3- what are some challenges to creating this type of collaborative model in your school? What might be a good “next step?” How has your thinking changed regarding your school’s current practice for collaboration and it’s alignment to “best practice?” Due November 7th.

My school has slowly been working to establish a more collaborative work environment. The staff does share a common vision of teaching and learning. Our principal is clear that at the heart of everything we do, we need to keep what is good for kids in mind. I think that overall our school culture would be described as a positive, collegial one where staff genuinely enjoy each other and even spend time together outside of the school day.

However, the laissez faire attitude that exists within the school has created an environment that disregards collaboration as a critical component to both professional development and improving student achievement. Currently, collaboration efforts are often mandated from “above,” either at the district level or from admin. There is little teacher buy in with current attempts to enforce participation in PLCs, attempts to create interdisciplinary teams, and classroom learning walks. I believe this comes from a lack of leader vision and shared staff vision and goals. My principal mentioned during my interview with him that he and the admin team have set a goal to be more direct with staff and they have primarily been focused on building relationships in the past and have sometimes avoided hard conversations and in my opinion, strong leadership on the need and importance of collaboration.

According to Zapeda, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are “a group of individuals who share a similar vision of educational values and beliefs. As a result of this shared vision, a community of learners can work toward common goals that enhance professional and personal development.” (p.83) We are currently using some sad form of PLCs at my school, and most are formed according to department or content area. Different PLCs are functioning at various levels of efficiency. A few are actively collecting and analyzing data to reflect on practice and collaborate to improve together. However, for the most part, including my own PLC, teachers work together in loosely organized and ill-defined groups that may informally share strategies and activities, but rarely, if ever, analyze data in order to improve practice and deepen our practice. For the most part, PLCs are seen as a top-down initiative with little buy-in; another hoop to jump through.

A type of learning that could include PLCs but also encompasses other types of learning is Collaborative Teacher Development. This type of professional development is not truly being implemented at my school right now, but it is a style of PD that I believe in as it encompasses teacher voice, choice and thus teacher buy-in, which I consider to be fundamental aspects of successful professional development experiences. Collaborative Teacher Development is any learning that teachers do collaboratively with others and can be structured tightly, with protocols, or in an informal way, depending on the needs of the teachers and the model being used. It can include teacher study groups and book studies. The idea behind these types of professional development is that teachers are at the center of choosing the topics of study and growth, and teachers are recognized as valuable resources to contribute to the development and growth of the whole. Teachers identify, investigate, implement, and reflect upon areas of growth that are meaningful and applicable to their practice and students, and dialogue and collaborate with other staff who share similar values and visions in order to improve their practice and school.

As I’ve learned about various models of professional learning, including the few mentioned here, I can’t help but reflect on both the positive direction we’ve been moving in, but also the great areas for growth that still exist. I believe at my school there is a belief that we are “good enough” as we are now. Teachers are bogged down with other responsibilities and thus it will take decisive vision and leadership to prioritize teacher professional development and lead us down the path of collaboration and teacher empowerment. Next steps would be for our administrators to:

  1. Make teacher professional development a priority and communicate this vision and goal to teachers, or even better, develop it WITH teachers.
  2. Create time and space to discuss values and vision. Link this to professional development.
  3. Create opportunities for teachers to choose their area for development and method for growth, whether it be in a PLC, a book study group, a coaching opportunity, attending a training or workshop and then sharing learning with staff as an in-house expert, learning walks, etc.
  4. Get creative and create time for teachers to collaborate and work together (more than our one hour Wednesday LEAP, which is irregular and often taken up with other responsibilities/commitments).
  5. Follow through-administrators need to commit to emphasizing and dedicating time and resources to the same focus for a few years in order to truly change school culture. In the three years I’ve been at my school, passing attempts at PLCs/data teams, book studies, learning walks, and interdisciplinary teams have been attempted. None have had much development or follow through however.
  6. Intentionally work to empower teachers: Give teachers more voice. What development do they need? How can they share their learning, in a meaningful way, with all staff? How can more than just Team Leaders take a leadership role? Send out leadership surveys asking teachers in what areas they feel like they could lead or share expertise. What types of areas would they like to collaborate with others? Then admin needs to work to set up these opportunities for staff to both lead and participate. Respond to teachers concerns. Let them know you listen to and value their opinion. Keep shared vision and non-negotiable values at the center.

 

 

 

Survey of Instructional Strategies MetaReflection

This course, Survey of Instructional Strategies, was essentially an overview of a variety of strategies that teachers apply in the classroom, with in-depth looks being given to a few choice strategies such as collaborative grouping, direct instruction, nonlinguistic representation, note taking strategies and advance schemas. We focused on two main texts for this course, Classroom Instruction that Works by Dean, Hubbell, Pitler & Stone and Visible Learning for Teachers by John Hattie, but also learned from independent research articles.

At the beginning of this course I already had an awareness of a variety of strategies, and had used or attempted to use most of the strategies focused on in this course. The main learning I thus took away from this course was a deeper appreciation for more meaningful application of strategies. Reading John Hattie’s book Visible Learning gave me a deeper insight into the need for intentionality, specific learning targets, and creating a reflective classroom with students at the center. As Hattie says “ ‘Everything works’: if the criterion of success is ‘enhancing achievement’ , then 95 per cent of all effect sizes in education are positive…because virtually everything works.” (p. 2) We must then ask ourselves as educators if the strategies we are employing are effective enough to be worth our time and worth our students’ time. Are we making as significant an impact as we can? Could we be teaching a specific topic in a more effective way, with a more impactful strategy? From this class I learned to ask this question, and then how to look for an answer.

This course has helped reinforce the importance of utilizing specific learning targets and collaborative practices amongst my colleagues. I have made some direct changes in my practice due to this. I have been refocusing on using Learning Goals in class. Although I was using them to some degree last year, I did not carry this practice through to this year, due to my changing methodology. However, over the course of this class, I have practiced writing down the learning target for myself each day, and it has helped re-focus my lesson planning. This has been especially beneficial at a time of the year that often feels hectic and rushed. Also, I’ve been referring to the Learning Goals in class with students.

Another learning for me has been around the idea of “multiple intelligences.” On page 91 Hattie critiques the ideas as classifying students in one category or another, which I found interesting, as I have also read another article making a similar criticism. Angelina E. Castagno makes a similar criticism in her article “Multicultural Education and the Protection of Whiteness.” She also argues that categorizing students by learning styles of intelligences should not be used and merely acts as an excuse to limit students. Despite the criticism, I would still use this as a guide to design choice activities and diversify choice, but not to prescribe what students should or must complete.

Finally, my one of my more important reflection was one I have already begun to put into action. After my readings, I could not shake the idea that in my World Language Department we could be serving students much better than we currently are. Hattie describes how “being clear about outcomes (success criteria) of the lesson or series o lessons” and deciding on how to best measure outcomes in a integral part of evaluating the impact of teaching on students (Know thy impact!). (p. 97) I kept reflecting on how our District Standards for World Language are general, non-specific and immeasurable. I thus have contacted my two colleagues and we have scheduled to begin a conversation about setting common expectations and course outcomes and agreeing on a common way to measure these outcomes. Although this is a basic first step, it is fundamental and most necessary for moving forward, and I am excited to see what comes from this collaboration. Finally, once we have a common foundation we all agree to, it will be easier to collaborate on effective strategies to employ in the classroom.

Overall, this course has helped to reinforce the impacts effective teaching can have on students. It has reminded me that we must look to our students to decide what the impact of our teaching really is, and to judge if a strategy is effective or not. It is no longer good enough to judge success merely by looking for any and all growth in students. More so, we must make sure that the strategies being employed are having the greatest impact possible on all students.

 

 

 

Accomplished Teaching: End of Course Reflection

The main learning I will take from this course is the importance of being a reflective practitioner, both individually and in a group setting, but also the challenges associated with this practice. I appreciated the explicit and simplistic nature of the text we read

York-Barr, J., Sommers, W. A., Ghere, G. S., & Montie, J. (2006). Reflective Practice to Improve Schools (second ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

I also realized along the way that there are many areas of accomplished teaching that I am already practicing in my classroom. These include:

  • Criterion 2: Demonstrating effective teaching practices: Reflecting on my practice regularly on an individual basis and adjusting my instruction and practice based on this reflection.
  • Criterion 3: Recognizing individual student learning needs and developing strategies to address those needs: I am using national standards to assess students’ baseline proficiency level and then design engaging, interactive experiences based on the Organic World Language (OWL) model. I also am constantly using formative assessment in class daily and adapting immediately, in the moment to give corrective feedback and adapt the lesson’s trajectory to better address students’ needs.
  • Criterion 4: Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum: Teaching to National Standards (ACTFL) and assessing students based on proficiency. This year implementing the OWL methodology has given me a more intentional focus and better understanding of my students than ever before. I also have access to a much wider variety of authentic resources in Spanish than ever before.
  • Using the Charlotte Danielson Framework to guide my reflection as an educator.

At the beginning of the Quarter, my goals for this program were:

  1. Standard 02: Analyze learning to promote student growth-Collaborating with peers to improve my selection, organization and use of data to improve student learning.
  2. Working to push students in their critical thinking skills and creative skills. For this I would like to learn from colleagues on questioning strategies and specific methodologies used to push students to the next level, while maintaining a student-centered environment.
  3. Building not only a student-centered environment, but one where students are responsible for and initiate learning. 
  4. Standard 11: Utilize formative and summative assessment in a standards based environment-Improving the quality and consistency of my use of sound formative assessments in my classroom.

Over the last 10 weeks, I have begun to touch on:

Goal #1- In accomplished teaching we practiced how to reflect in small groups and implemented a variety of protocols to aid the reflection process. We wrote a lesson plan for this and then filmed the lesson. With a partner we then reflected on the lesson, using a protocol to assist us. A few of the protocols I appreciated and would like to use in the future in my professional practice are

peeling_onion_protocol

student_work_analysis

tuning_protocol

Utilizing this protocol helps keep all involved focused, as unbiased as possible, and allows us to work with a meaningful structure to our reflective session.

Goal #3- I conducted my final research paper on Formative Assessment and the use of student self-reflective practices.

Heading forward, as I focus on becoming a teacher-leader, I will focus on leading by example and continuing to share the new learning I gather in this program with colleagues. This may mean suggesting we use a new protocol in PLC meetings for example, or utilizing my new skills to help my PLC analyze student work and proceed afterwards to use the results of this reflection to improve instruction.

I would also like to look further into the work by Matthew Poehner on advanced linguistics and language acquisition. His research has direct implications for the reflective activities I design for my students, as well as the performance assessments I design and implement.

Lantolf, J.P., & Poehner, M.E. (2011). Dynamic assessment in the classroom: Vygotskian praxis for second language development. Language Teaching Research, 15(1), 11-33.

Poehner, M. E. (2012). The Zone of Proximal Development and the genesis of self-assessment. Modern Language Journal96(4), 610-622.

OWL and Incorporating Technology

Unfortunately I was unable to go to the SPU Tech Camp, because I had an Organic World Language training that I attended in Tacoma to support my current practice.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 9.11.32 PM

As I attended this workshop Friday and Saturday, I was continuously reminded of the many ways I can and should utilize technology in my classroom. However, the most useful discussion was one regarding literacy and technology. The practitioners at the OWL training represented a wide range of school districts, all with a wide range of technological resources. However, we all agreed on the important of using the web to access authentic resources in the TL (target language). Many sources were shared, but one that stood out to me as having special potential was one regarding accessing level-specific Spanish-language text. Finding authentic Spanish-language text at a students developmental level is very challenging, especially at the beginning levels, like Spanish 1 and 2. Two sources that I am interested in exploring more are:

-Newsela

-Google Search: I learned that by using the Advanced Search option, you can filter results based on reading level! This is a HUGE breakthrough for me, because this will (hopefully) open up a very powerful and effective way to search for more appropriate, at level, authentic reading materials for my Spanish 1 and 2 students, in the target language.


For my Accomplished Teaching class I’ve decided to write my final paper on Criterion 4: Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum.

This criteria is meaningful to me now, as I am implementing a new teaching model and learning to integrate more technology into my practice. The word intentional jumps out at me, as lately I have been starting to feel discombobulated by all the new changes I’m trying to implement. Especially with technology I find myself asking, “What is my intent here?” “What goal do I want to achieve by introducing this new technology to my practice or to my students?” I want to take the time in the next coming week to sit and reflect on all the newness that has surrounded me this last Quarter, and re-focus my efforts to intentionally and meaningfully direct my students and design creative learning opportunities for them that push them to meet National and District Standards.

Research, 5 Star Research and Knowledge Construction

This week we focused on Research procedures and teaching research to students.Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 8.17.17 PMThe LWSD encourages use of the 5 Star Research Model. I appreciate the methodical and straight-forward approach that is this process. It makes sense to present to students in this format. However, I can foresee that to teach to students one would have to teach one step at a time, for example teach just planning, then just gathering, then organizing, etc. This would take up a lot of class time.

In my research this week I looked into the use of Google Cardboard in the classroom. My colleague first mentioned this new idea to me a couple weeks ago, and he is going to try to propose that we get a pilot program running at our school, now that myself and a few other teachers are on board and would be willing and exciting to see it’s potential in the classroom. I’m very excited by the idea that students may be able to take virtual field trips to Latin America and Spanish destinations. The applications for this technology in my classroom are endless.

My favorite source I found through my research this week was

http://www.youvisit.com/travel

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Even without Google Cardboard, students can take virtual tours around the world. The only technical glitch I’ll need to work out and explore is whether or not students are able to access this website on their District laptops.

However, I must admit that at this moment, I am feeling quite overwhelmed with the prospect of teaching research to my students in an all-Spanish environment. I have heard it said that each year find one or two really meaningful things you are going to change to improve your practice and focus on those things, so as to implement them effectively and to not overstrain yourself and your time. However this year, I have completely changed my teaching model AND I am trying to be more reflective AND I’m video taping lessons for the first time AND I’m implementing OneNote Notebooks AND I’m trying to incorporate other ISTE Standards and implement other new technology. It is a lot and realistically I reaching a point where I am unsure how much “new” I will be able to handle this semester.

On a positive note thought, I do feel energized and excited this year because I am really being pushed and challenged to be better and to improve my practice for student benefit.


On a different note, this last week I spent 3 days introducing OneNote to my students. It took a lot of time and was hectic. I set up activities ahead of time and gave students a brief, all-class introduction to OneNote and then set them to work on a list of tasks which required them to explore OneNote and complete different activities, some individually, some in pairs. It was a bit chaotic. In the future, to improve this activity, I will put students in groups of 3 and organize the room so that they are physically sitting in these groups and work together to answer each others’ questions and work through tasks.

Integration of Technology and Collaboration

This week (Week 4) of our Educational Technology class, we focused on collaboration using technology and integrating the ISTE standards to improve our practice.

In regards to collaboration, we worked in pairs to build a chariot powered by Sphero. Here are my reflections on collaborating during this activity and collaboration in the classroom in general:

Collaborating with David was easy and enjoyable because

    • We both readily volunteered ideas and brainstormed together
    • Although I had no prior knowledge of engineering or using Kinecs (sp?), David never belittled my ideas.
    • We tested all ideas put forth by either person and ultimately came up with a superior product because of this. We had to try multiple models.

I do think students like to collaborate IF the following characteristics exist

    • Students feel safe in the environment. This means they feel safe taking risks. In order to feel safe taking risks, students need to know that their ideas will be respected and won’t be belittled or ignored or ridiculed.
    • The activity is designed that requires them to collaborate. This means being thoughtful about each student’s role and not just grouping students and setting them free to work in groups.

However, key to collaboration is communication.

    • All participants need to “buy-in” and contribute to the group. This means volunteering ideas and supporting each other in their idea sharing.
    • All participants need to arrive with an open mind and be open to testing or trying all ideas volunteered.
    • All participants need to work towards the common goal. Too often one or two participants do the majority of work.
    • Participants need to communicate. This could be face-to-face or using technology. Either way, they need to be collaborating, not just working individually and combing work at the end.

We set growth goals for our incorporation of technology in in our classrooms and for growing as technology leaders in our school settings as well. Becoming a technology leader in my school is an exciting prospect. I also really like the idea of incorporating more relevant and meaningful tech into my classroom.

Simply taking this course has inspired me to incorporate more relevant tech into my teaching practice, to benefit student learning. I really appreciate how Richard introduces meaningful, accessible and practical technology that I can apply right away with students. This has not always been the case with my past technology trainings. Hands-on practice using OneNote and Mix also have helped me to see their possibilities. Too often during district tech trainings we are “introduced” to a new software or technology through a presentation, but we never actually interact in a meaningful way with the product, and thus never feel comfortable with it and never implement it.

Since beginning this course, I have slowly started sharing with colleagues around me what I’m learning, and this alone is opening up new conversations and helping spread a technology integrated culture. Just last week my colleague who shares a classroom with me, and is one of our new SMAS coordinators, told me about a cool new app from Google called Google Cardboard. It is a Virtual Reality app that would allow students to take digital field trips around the world! How relevant for a World Language class! WOW! Very exciting. I want to see if I can incorporate this into my travel unit for Spanish 2 this year. Also, I would LOVE to someday figure out how to set them up with digital pen pals in a Spanish-speaking country.

My self-identified areas for growth and my subsequent growth plan are as follows:

Referring to the student ISTE Standards, my  areas for growth are:

  1. Creativity and Innovation: My students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
  2. Research and Information Fluency: My students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

Referring to the teacher ISTE Standards, my  areas for growth are:

  1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity: I use my knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.
  1. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility: I understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in my professional practices.

Goal for Growth:

How do you want to improve your technology integration and leadership in your classroom and building (refer to specific ISTE Standards)?

I have already improved my knowledge of different technologies available that would be useful in my classroom, such as OneNote Class Notebooks and  Office Mix.

I would like to further improve my technology integration by creating more options for students to demonstrate creativity and innovation in my classroom. Going hand-in-hand with this is the teacher standard of Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity.

How can you go about meeting this goal?

To do this, I will use the 21st century rubrics to help plan lessons that

  1. Incorporate and explicitly teach students how to use
    1. Office Mix
    2. One Note Notebooks
    3. One Drive

to collaborate with one another, investigate and apply critical thinking skills to new situations.

  1. I will also have an English day (since my classroom is Spanish immersion) where I teach some of these tech skills and also discuss digital citizenship topics specifically related to research online and collaborating using technology.

Accomplished Teaching: Initial Reflection

Over these next two years there are many things I am looking forward to improving in my professional practice. However, a few of my current priorities are:

  1. Standard 02: Analyze learning to promote student growth-Collaborating with peers to improve my selection, organization and use of data to improve student learning.
  2. Working to push students in their critical thinking skills and creative skills. For this I would like to learn from colleagues on questioning strategies and specific methodologies used to push students to the next level, while maintaining a student-centered environment.
  3. Building not only a student-centered environment, but one where students are responsible for and initiate learning. 
  4. Standard 11: Utilize formative and summative assessment in a standards based environment-Improving the quality and consistency of my use of sound formative assessments in my classroom.