In just a few short hours, we’ve had BRILLIANT questions asked and answered by professionals working in positions across the educational spectrum. Classroom teachers are thinking alongside principals and professional developers. Teachers in large schools are thinking alongside teachers in small, rural communities.
That kind of diversity leads to a collectively intelligent group, y’all. My thinking has already been challenged about a dozen times, and that’s cool.
Here’s a few interesting strands of conversation that you might want to jump in on:
On Slide 2, Dan Greenberg—who is a professional developer from Houston—asked an interesting question about our perspectives towards curricula when he asked:
"In the realm of multicultural education, we hear a lot about some teachers having a deficit view of students and their potential and it seems that deficit view can be applied to curriculum as well. Are we looking for what should be cut out or is the focus on what should be our essentials?"
That’s got me thinking simply because I’ve never really considered the impact that my own view of the curriculum might have on my teaching and learning—and more importantly on the way that I choose to interact with students or to deliver instruction.
Is it possible that a deficit view—what in our curriculum do we need to get rid of—might carry implications for our belief systems about what is possible and/or impossible to teach to our kids?
On Slide 3, Eric Townsley and Becky Goerend have introduced the challenges of regrouping for differentiation in high schools, where teachers can often be the only instructor of a particular subject, and in small schools, where there may only be one teacher at each grade level.
That’s really got me thinking, simply because I work in a large school where there are no fewer than 4 teachers in each content area at every grade level. What I’m wondering is how regrouping to provide differentiated instruction looks different in small schools.
How can faculties—regardless of their size—make opportunities for reteaching possible?
On Slide 5, Matt Townsley—a full time math teacher—wonders whether school wide systems of interventions are even possible in buildings where faculty members haven’t bought into the idea that all teachers serve all students.
He writes, "Rick talked about the need to think of students as "ours" instead of "mine." I think having conversations leading to this mindset may be a pre-requisite to the interventions themselves. A culture change of sorts. How has it started in your schools?"
I think this is an important question to consider. How do schools that have embraced the idea that every teacher serves every child—and that logical interventions require redistributing the intellectual capital of a building—-make this philosophical shift.
Are there specific steps that school and teacher leaders can take to develop this mentality in their faculties, or are such attitudes just the random result of a group of likeminded teachers coming together?
On Slide 7, Matt Townsley asks another key question when thinking about the common "yeah, buts" that prevent teachers and schools from creating effective systems of intervention.
He writes, "Yeah, but as a classroom teacher, how do I get my principal on board if they’re resistant to the idea of restructuring?"
Great question, isn’t it? In the end, classroom teachers have little organizational authority. We can’t require the kinds of changes necessary beyond the classroom to make school-wide intervention systems possible.
So if we’re working in a building where there is little momentum from the top to work differently, what kind of actions should we take to move responsible practice forward?
On Slide 10, Russ Goerend argues that in order for school leaders to get faculty members on board, they’ve got to present the "whys" behind both professional learning communities and systematic interventions designed to meet the needs of every learner.
By presenting the "whys," school leaders get skeptics on board and provide supporters with knowledge that can be used to bolster their gut instincts.
I’m wondering, though, just how many school leaders do an effective job of outlining the "whys" of professional learning communities to their faculty members.
I’ve worked with far too many skeptical teachers to believe that a clear case for professional learning communities and interventions for students is being made in most districts. There’s still a lot of doubt—especially in the face of new and challenging work.
So my question is a simple one: How important is it for school leaders to clearly, convincingly and constantly outline the "whys" to their faculty members?
A pointer for participants: Many users have asked whether it is possible for one person to leave more than one comment on each slide. The answer is yes—and I hope you will! Ongoing dialogue between participants around one concept is what makes a conversation healthy.
When you do, though, you won’t see a new icon added around our focusing quote. In order to keep a slide from getting cluttered with icons, whenever a participant adds a second comment to a slide, Voicethread adds the comment to the conversation without adding a new icon.
Other participants will know that you’ve added a second comment by looking at the timeline found beneath each slide, where they will see a new yellow comment tab. They will also see a yellow box—and a groovy yellow speech bubble—surrounding your icon.
Here’s to hoping that you’ll take the time to stop by our conversation before it ends on Friday! Not only will you learn a ton….we’ll learn a ton from you!