Last year, our Parson teachers had received bi-weekly professional development since school started in August. That is a tremendous amount of bite-sized chunks and can be completely overwhelming! I decided to STOP professional development for a couple weeks and allow time to process the information! It's not about me "covering" information, it's about synthesizing into classroom practice and raising student achievement. I gave teachers one week to synthesize all of the training materials, book study notes, e-mails, and the reality of classroom implementation. The teachers were given a poster board and asked to visually represent what "clicked" during these weeks of PD. Each teacher would share a 3 minute presentation for their peers during a morning PD. Initially the staff moaned and groaned about additional "work," but on presentation day the reflection process produced tears, shouts of joy, dropped jaws, thunderous applause, and deep questions!
Before the presentations began, I reviewed our school-wide classroom priority - Accountable Talk. Discussions are not meant to be a free-for-all! We need active listeners and articulate speakers. I always want to model and use PD time to emphasize classroom strategies.
Therefore, I established a discussion agreement and distributed sentence frames on strips of paper. (The slips of paper were a new method of facilitating Accountable Talk.)
The teachers presented in a group of 4 teachers. (A reminder that groups of 4 are magic!) The teacher presenting spoke for 3 minutes uninterrupted. (Yes, we set a timer so we would not loose track of time.) The other 3 teachers actively listened and could not interrupt. At the end of the 3 minutes, the listening teachers used the provided Accountable Talk stems to give feedback or a question. The feedback round was timed for 1 minute. This sounds rigid, but exaggerated timing is a major reason discourse flops in the classroom.
|Some teachers created an elaborate production and shared unique personal reflections.|
|First Grade Teacher...|
|The Music Teacher...|
|A Fifth Grade Teacher...|
|The P.E. Teacher...|
|A Third Grade Teacher...|
|A First Grade Teacher...|
|A Fifth Grade Teacher...|
|A Kindergarten Teacher...|
|A Second Grade Teacher...|
|An Early Childhood Special Education Teacher...|
|The Mind Maps were displayed in the lounge to continue the school-wide reflection and long-term review.|
So, this is where we were as of October 2013. The level of professional conversation and classroom implementation has absolutely increased. Our student achievement is steadily climbing. What can we say at the end 2014? Stay tuned...