Standard 8: Present professional practice for the review of colleagues

Throughout this program we worked collaboratively to present our work and practice to peers, receive formative feedback, and adjust and grow based on the feedback we received.

Presentations reflect an understanding of adult learning theories

A key learning for me was that adults learn differently from children, and adult learning styles and theory must be considered when designing reflective learning processes for adults. Unfortunately this is often overlooked by school leaders and can lead to staff disengaging from learning processes that could otherwise be valuable.

According to Zepeda’s Adult Learning Theory, “adult learning should be built on ownership, appropriateness, structure, collaboration, internalizaton, reflection, and motivation.” (p.47) Throughout the course I learned various strategies that can be implemented within the school setting to engage staff in professional development that responds to how adults learn including: embedding professional development within the job, giving teachers choice over what professional development (PD) they need and how they would like to learn and thus giving teachers ownership and making sure PD is appropriate for the teacher’s level of knowledge and expertise, making sure  PD applies directly to the job, and engaging teachers in leadership opportunities throughout the school, including the opportunity to share their learning with others. (Zepeda, p.59)

Some practical steps to take in working towards addressing unique needs to adult learners would be:

  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

-In our accomplished teaching course 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 protocols listed below to assist us.

peeling_onion_protocol

student_work_analysis

tuning_protocol

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

4. Get creative and create time for teachers to collaborate and work together

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.

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.

Presentations include reference to research

Before my studies in the Masters in Teacher Leadership Program, I had heard mention of Action Research but did not know what it entailed. EDU 6979 – Action Research in School Settings and EDU 6528 – Accomplished Teaching helped guide me through valuable learning experiences regarding the Research Action process itself, and also more specifically regarding my area of focus for my project. I now feel capable and confident enacting an Action Research Project on my own using 3-legs of data and presenting  my research professionally to colleagues.

See full Action Research Paper here: Raising Cultural Competence and Sensitivity.

I have also reflected upon the idea that my PLC could significantly benefit from implementing some of the structure and research that is built into the RAP. As of now, PLC meetings are loosely defined and fairly unproductive. There is usually a general goal that defines our topic of discussion, but data is never discussed nor shared. We have yet to implement common assessments across courses to compare results and best practices. Frustrations are shared but rarely are concrete techniques or strategies discussed. I would love to bring my learning from this course to my PLC and suggest we follow some of the steps to conduct an informal Research Action Project and compare results among students to explore best practices across many classrooms and teaching styles. It would also benefit us to establish clear student outcome goals and specific data collection strategies.

Learned how to communicate professionally and verbally to an adult audience

Presenting practice for review does not just mean to teaching colleagues and staff, but also to the wider community. Schools operate as one of the great last social safety-nets and are one of the few experiences that almost all  of us go through in our lives. In this way we have a great responsibility to share and collaborate with the community in the educational endeavors we undertake.

In EDAD 6589: Engaging Communities, I learned that involvement means doing to as opposed to engagement which means doing with. In this way, most schools involve parents and families through email, parent-teacher nights and/or curriculum nights, sports events, automatic caller systems, and mailing home school-related information. However, this is a one-way system where families and communities are the recipients of school information, but are not active contributors who have the power to shape the school culture or processes. As school leaders, we have a responsibility to not only involve families and communities, but to engage them in meaningful ways, to invite them and encourage them to be a part of the process where their voices are heard and considered and school-related decisions are made with them, not for them. (Ferlazzo, 2011)

I have come to learn that family engagement is critical for improving student achievement and is more than simply involving families. Involvement is making decisions for a group based on perceived needs, whereas engagement is making decisions with a group, based on real needs. As referenced in Washington State Leadership Standard Four, in order to consider needs of all stakeholders in our schools, we must establish a fluid feedback loop between families, students, staff and school leaders. This takes added creativity and effort when considering the needs of diverse groups, but is essential as we must recognize that as a school we are an integral part of a larger community, and by addressing the needs of our diverse student and family populations we are also enriching the school environment for our students and staff and modeling for our students how to function in a democracy made of diverse needs. I was able to put this into practice and design a theoretical Community Engagement Product (CEP).

The ability to reflect upon engagement practices is one of my great take-aways of this course.

This is often the difference between a good educator and a great educator who works as a change-maker: one who can engage families and the larger community to take responsibility and be part of students’ education can affect lasting, long-term change.

In the Leadership in Education course, I learned about various leadership styles and how a strong leader must be adaptable to varying situations, deliberately choosing decision-making models based on each unique situation.

Hoy & Tarter Decision Making Model

Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 11.40.38 AM

In this course we researched and presented to our peers on a leadership topic of interest, practicing both skills of presenting to adult colleagues, but also practicing our new-learned skills of being responsible consumers of educational research, distinguishing between reliable and unreliable research.

Leadership in Ed Research_Achievement Gap

Notes_Research Presentation

Ferlazzo, L. (2011).  Involvment or Engagement?  Educational Leadership, 68(8), 10-14.

Hoy, W. K., Miskel, C. G., & Tarter, C. J. (2013). Educational administration: theory, research, and practice. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Zepeda, S. (2008). Professional Development: What Works. New York: Eye on Education.

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.

 

 

 

Pre-Assessment: EDU 6600 Communication and Collaboration

My current experiences with professional learning practices thus far have been generally positive, but individualized more than collaborative. 

When I started in this district 3 years ago, it was my first experience with PLCs. My current knowledge of PLCs is limited, although I know that the general cycle of group inquiry begins with a collective question or goal, data collection and tracking, reflection as a group on that data, decisions made together to react to what the data tells us (sharing of best practices, trying new strategies to see who has the better results, etc.), collecting data again and continuing this cycle. I have worked in a PLC ever since joining my current school, but I have never felt like we follow this cycle as we set common goals and discuss how we are addressing these goals, but we have never compared data nor reacted to data to adjust our teaching, which I feel are actually the critical steps. There actually seems to be a true aversion to data collection with my colleagues, and I have felt jeered at recently when attempting to suggest we use data collection to improve our practice. 

Due to diverse attitudes towards data collection and collaboration in my PLC, I have chosen a more individualized and personal route of professional learning, pursuing workshops and trainings multiple times a year, organizing trainings to share with colleagues, pursuing my Masters in Teacher Leadership and working to apply this learning directly to my classroom, and pursuing my National Board Certification, which is an inherently reflective process. 

I became a teacher to help level the playing field, close the gap, play my role in making the world a more just place. However, I have not always felt like I am directly achieving this. I am curious to see how professional learning can be pursued through a social justice lens in this class this Quarter, as is mentioned in the article Building Hope, Giving Affirmation by Stephanie Hirsh and Shirley M. Hord. I do feel like social justice issues have been raised by our administration, and this year, we were encouraged to work in our PLCs to design units of work that would be accessible to low income students and our African American and Latino students. Unfortunately, we were given little time and no guidance/resources for how to do this, and so teachers more focused on designing collaborative units of work more than units designed to support specific populations of students within the school. 

 

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.