Our 2nd PLT meeting was held a couple of weeks ago but I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to update until now 😦 Since my Principal and I led the last session, this time the Assistant Principal and the English Dept Head served as facilitators. They did a wonderful job!!
For this second session, we are continuing to study the book The Fred Factor by Mark Sanford. We are also continuing to apply things we pull from this book to our own school in an effort to change the school’s culture this year. And, we are working towards the development of a school-wide One-Page Target (If you aren’t sure what this is, please refer to Jim Knight’s book Unmistakable Impact ).
The session began with an opportunity to reflect upon what we did last time and how our last session has impacted the job we are doing. Even though it was a simple 3-2-1 reflection, the conversations we had were extremely powerful!
The main focus of this session was developing a shared consensus of what quality teaching and learning should look like in our school. It was amazing to me how many different ideas of what good teaching and effective student engagement and learning people had!
We watched 2 videos from 9th grade ELA classrooms and rated (or “graded”) the effectiveness of the teacher as well as how well the students were engaged in learning. After each one, we discussed why we gave the rating that we did. After the first one, we simply held up an index card with the grade “A” through “F” for teacher and for student. After the second one, we created a people graph and stood in line based on our rating. (This is a good formative assessment tool to use with students in the classroom too 🙂 ).
This is the first 9th ELA classroom we watched. I played the first 5 minutes, then skipped to minute 15, then to minute 18 in order to get a picture of the whole lesson (since it was 20 minutes long).
This is the second 9th ELA classroom. I specifically chose this one because it deals with direct instruction and that is the most common means of instruction in a high school. This teacher does a wonderful job of keeping student engaged while lecturing with a Powerpoint. Since it was only 8 minutes long, we watched this one in it’s entirety.
These videos opened up the conversation about what effective instruction involves and looks like in our school. I think that if we had not watched them, and simply relied on our own experiences, then we might not have been as productive as we were. There’s just something about talking about a lesson, that you don’t have any stake in, that allows you to really reflect upon it’s effectiveness. It also allows you to step back and evaluate the engagement of the students in an impartial way since they are not students you already know personally.
In the week before the session, I gave every member of our PLT team a copy of the article from the latest issue of Educational Leadership entitled “4 (Secret) Keys to Student Engagement” by Robyn Jackson and Allison Zmuda. It is an excellent thought-provoking piece on student compliance versus student engagement. We had a wonderful, honest discussion about what this means to us as classroom teachers and how we want students to be mindfully engaged, not just compliant.
Soooooooo what does all this mean and how to we make sense of what we think? How does this relate to our school’s vision for quality instruction/learning? How can we begin to shape the vision for our school’s One Page Target?
The last part of our session was spent identifying our school’s vision for what we want teachers to be doing and what we want students to be doing in order to be successful. Our last activity was the creation of affinity maps. Affinity mapping is a powerful visualization tool where data is arranged into groups based on natural relationships. For our purposes, each person called to mind their personal view of quality teaching. Then, they generated as many specific teacher behaviors associated with effective teaching as they could. They wrote these on yellow sticky notes, only one specific behavior per post-it note. This was repeated for behaviors associated with high-performing student learning. These were written on pink sticky notes. For the actual mapping, the PLT was divided into 2 groups and given large chart paper, one for teacher behaviors and one for student. The groups posted their answers, then re-arranged their post-its into groups as they discovered relationships amongst them. Each group was given a name. Here is what they looked like….
After this was completed, I further evaluated the categories and responses and put them into the 4 parts of a One Page Target. Here are the results of my analysis for effective teaching…
Such a powerful exercise! I think it’s really important that we share so many of the same ideas. One thing I also noticed was that the “Assessment” category was very sparse. This will be a focus of our next PLT meeting in October (and formative assessment is also my own personal growth area for this school year).
Here are the typed results of our affinity mapping exercise. These will be the starting points for next time. 🙂