In this video/podcast, I discuss 5 Simple Rules for Teacher Questioning. It is important for educators to develop quality skills when it comes to key instructional strategies. In this video, I share five practical ways teachers can improve questioning in their classroom.
Schools are being innovative with technology, but is the same innovation occurring in our course and curriculum design? When will we scrap the content area course silos and create interdisciplinary courses that promote problem and project-based learning, which provide authentic, real-world applicable skill development? Allowing more flexibility to combine interdisciplinary content, outside of the restrictions of grade level standards can help. But we also need to get more creative to make this happen. I explore all of these topics in this video.
In this video I discuss how the placement of students reflect our high expectations for their learning. I talk about the importance of shifting from traditional ability groups, to effective, inclusive classrooms that support all students in achieving academic success. This includes approaches and strategies for implementation.
Teachers deserve professional development that is personalized, differentiated and teacher-driven. In this video, I discuss how our school is utilizing a learning pathway approach to professional development. I also share ideas on how giving teachers ownership over their learning can yield tremendous gains, and improve culture.
In this video, I discuss ideas related to hiring and interviewing. This includes the factors we consider important, when hiring a candidate, and how to find the right fit for a team.
This year, our school implemented a learning pathway model of professional development with our teachers. I’ve shared our rationale and an overview of our work in previous posts. We are now at the time of year when we need to take time to reflect on the success of this model. To do so, we sent out a staff survey, met with our School Instructional Leadership Team, and had individual conversations with teachers at their end of year meetings. After reviewing the feedback, we came away with the following reflections:
1. Choose and autonomy are great, but it must be balanced with some structure and support.
When designing the structure, we didn’t want to micromanage goal-setting, action steps, or resources. We did provide a general guide for groups to use, but took more of a hands-off approach to monitoring and involvement in guiding action steps. As a result, multiple groups shared they struggled with setting goals that could guide the significance of the work, and sustain focus throughout the whole school year.
To respond to this feedback, we made several improvements for next year. First, we structured the guidelines to encourage teachers to generate questions they are curious about, related to their topic. We felt questions, rather than goals, could encourage teachers to pursue specific areas of interest. Groups can generate broad goals, and individuals can also develop and pursue answers to their own questions. In addition, we plan to provide more hands-on support at the early stages of question development, to assist groups with getting started. One method for generating questions, which we will encourage, is to use the Question Formulation Technique.
2. Some individuals struggled with aligning their learning pathway work with their differentiated supervision model.
One of the intended benefits of this model of professional development was that teacher’s who were on a differentiated supervision model could use the work of their learning pathway to support their portfolio or action research. For example, a teacher who participated in the technology integration learning pathway, could focus their portfolio to highlight their work engaging students in learning, and utilization of resources, which are two components of the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching. They can take their professional learning and use it to implement strategies and resources to improve work with students, and highlight that through their portfolio.
3. Teachers were interested in more opportunity to share their work.
As teachers collaborated in small groups, the learning they gained was generally isolated from the work of the other groups. Teachers expressed interest in more opportunities to share their learning among the groups. To respond to this feedback, we plan to design our annual Learning Lounge (see @MurphysMusings5‘s post on this awesome experience) to allow groups to share and collaborate midway through the year.
If we want to empower our students to take more ownership of their learning, pursue their interests, and become lifelong learners, we must model these traits through our own professional learning. We need to create experiences that encourage educators to become a profession of learners. We do this by providing a balance of choice, autonomy, purpose, structure and support. I am so excited to see how the improvements we are making to this balance leads to even greater success with this model next year.
Is the amount of time we spend on different communication skills balanced? Do we spend too much time on writing, as compared to speaking, voice, video, and graphic design? Does the amount of time we spend on forms of communication (other than writing) reflect the current reality of relevant skills. This video challenges leaders and educators to rethink “Communication Skills” and our approach to prioritizing different skills.
In this video, I discuss the need (or lack thereof) for marking periods. I share our school’s purpose for, and experience transitioning to a year long grading period.
In this video, I discuss grading and assessment practices of make ups, retests and redos. I also explain the justification for each, and how they can be implemented into the classroom.
In this episode, I discuss a Secret Valentine idea that is being done at our school. This has grown a lot of fun and excitement among the staff throughout the month of February. It’s a great turn-key idea you can use in your school.