Article Reflection: Best practice for spreading innovation: Let the practitioners do it

pdk

To read the article in full visit:  http://www.kappanmagazine.org/content/95/3/39.full

As I read this article, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the radical changes that are occurring at my own school over the course of  this school year. Granted, I do have a new principal, but I really do not think the changes I witness on a daily basis, within the classrooms of my school, can be attributed to a simple change in leadership.  These changes are occurring at a much deeper level~ a change in teacher beliefs about quality instruction and student learning. I believe that this is primarily happening because the teachers are creating the change…. not because a change is mandated from the top.  This is huge.

Although this is my second year of being an “instructional coach” at my high school, it is my first year to participate as an “instructional partner” in the Instructional Partner Program through the Alabama Best Practices Center (http://www.bestpracticescenter.org/). This article caused me to stop and reflect upon the culture of my school last year, compared to this year. I see a difference….. actually, a tremendous difference. Let me explain….

sch supplies sideI work daily in a high-poverty high school.  Approximately 75% of our 800 students receive free/reduced lunch every day.  Even though our school building is new and very beautiful on the outside, it is still filled with teenagers who have a tough time.  In fact, many only come to school some days for a good meal.  (This, honestly, just breaks my heart for these kids).  Many are absent frequently because they are the main breadwinner for their family.  Some even work 3rd shift and still try and make it to school when they get off.  As a response to needs like these, my school has piloted several programs (such as early arrival or early dismissal) to help keep these students in school.

However, despite the difficult picture painted by our student demographics, this year our school decided to raise the bar of expectations and increase the rigor and relevance of the classes we offer.  Historically, we know that about half of our students will not pursue college.  However, as a faculty we have a collective vision that we want our students to be as prepared to enter college as they are to enter the workforce. We know that it is easy to follow a tender teacher’s heart and feel so much empathy for underprivileged students that you don’t push them as hard as you should.  But, this year, we have raised our expectations across the board. This has been a huge change for everyone in our school… from the students to the teachers.  

successNow, every day as I enter classrooms, I am consistently seeing teachers utilizing teaching / learning strategies aligned with best practices.  Students are engaged…. really engaged… and teachers are facilitating student learning, not just being the “expert” at the front of the room.  More often than not when I visit a classroom, I see teachers just as engaged in learning as the students!  I have also seen a shift in conversations among teachers.  Now, I am most likely to hear things like “I’m having trouble getting Johnny engaged in my English class.  How have you reached him in Science?”  instead of “Johnny is driving me crazy! I’m so glad when he’s absent”.  Such a huge, positive change.  This shift in teacher attitude is present in the way they view our professional development opportunities as well.  Now, I think they view it as a learning opportunity instead of something they just have to sit through to get credit.  In fact, the new administration has allowed “duty-free” lunch possible twice this semester as a common planning time.  As a system, we are also participating in K-12 vertical alignment sessions with each core subject  4 times over the 2013-2014 school year.  We have really never done things like this before in my system. It is still a work-in-progress, but I am seeing a definite change in the culture of my school.  I attribute this to the commitment my school system has made to participating in the Alabama Best Practice Center’s initiatives.

To read the article in full visit:  http://www.kappanmagazine.org/content/95/3/39.full

About Edgy Instruction

Science Teacher (Biology, AP Biology, and Forensic Science), Anatomy Professor, and former Instructional coach.
This entry was posted in Instructional Coaching, T.I.P Theory Into Practice, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s