Teacher Leadership Standard 1 – Model ethical and moral behavior

The main goal in my career as a teacher and future educational administrator is to help my students to grow into happy, successful citizens. When I first started working on this blog posting, I came up with quite a long list of values and morals that I believe in. However, I needed to narrow them down to my guiding principles as an educator. Before making a plan of action, it is important to think about what you want to happen. If we don’t have an underlying intention, we won’t have a guide in which to follow when making decisions. We won’t have a destination or end in mind. If we don’t know where we are ultimately going, we can’t know the way to get there. We need to know ourselves and be clear about our own intentions and why we feel the way the we do. We need to ask ourselves…What are the underlying emotions or thoughts that are guiding my intentions? What is motivating me to have those intentions? To be effective educators and educational leaders, our intentions should be focused on helping others. After narrowing down my list of values, morals, and principles, I came up with a short list for my role as an educator, for my students to grow into happy, successful citizens. They include unconditional love, moral socialization, and having a Growth Mindset.

I grew up attending church and a Catholic elementary school. I learned the fundamentals of the Bible and the Catholic religion and was taught to live by the church’s morals and values. Within my family, at school, and through the church, I was taught to live by the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. Even though we went to church and attended Catholic school, we were not a religious family. Religion was more a matter of tradition and family history. As a family, we started steering away from organized religion, but continued to practice many of the morals and values taught by the church. To this day, I do not consider myself religious, but I do consider myself spiritual. I feel that many organized religions, and the people who follow those religions, have strayed from their original purposes and goals. “God, life, and love – these three are indispensable for a good and beautiful world. That is the heart of Christianity, and that is the message we most need to recover” (Wirzba, 2013, p. 2). I have tried to live my life caring for others and keeping in mind the Golden Rule of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I am not one to quote scripture or stand firm using religious reasoning. In fact, blind adherence to doctrine makes me uncomfortable. I feel that my values and morals are very “public” in the fact that even though they may be grounded in religious teachings, they are not defended through religious arguments. I feel that this is critically important in today’s world of cultural inclusivity. As an educator, I value our American forefathers view of the separation of church and state. There are so many different cultures and religions living within our country now, that to bring us all together, a more secular view of values and morals is needed.

Within my family growing up, I learned unconditional love through my amazing stay-at-home mom. She valued my three siblings and I, wanted us to follow our passions and our dreams. She always showed us she loved us, even when we she didn’t love our behavior. She taught us how to get along with each other, to be compassionate, honest, take responsibility for our actions, and to have courage and patience. My dad on the other hand, who was a high-level executive at Boeing, encouraged me to always do my best. He instilled a strong work ethic within me and always wanted me to go above and beyond what was expected. When I was in elementary school, I remember him asking my teachers for extra credit and enrichment work for me. From then on, there was never an extra credit offering that I turned down. Even if I had a perfect score in the class, I would do every extra credit assignment that was available. He taught me self-discipline, respect, perseverance, determination, diligence, and leadership. Through both of my parents, I feel that I received a very well-rounded moral upbringing. However, I often did not feel unconditional love from my dad. The high-pressure tactics he employed to instill a strong work ethic in us as children, often made me feel that his love was conditional on my achievement.

As a parent of three, I have tried to raise my children with high moral values. I have tried to take the best of what was taught to me as a child and alter that which I felt could be improved upon. I want my kids to always strive to do and be their best, and know that mistakes are an important part of learning and growing. By showing them unconditional love, my children have been able to focus on standing tall without questioning my support if they fall. Some of the ways that my husband and I taught our values and morals to our children were through modeling, experiences, and children’s literature. We read books to them like The Children’s Book of Virtues, by William J. Bennett (1998). The book was also adapted into a children’s PBS television series called the Adventures from the Book of Virtues. The book and television show were based on international stories, fables, and myths that helped children to learn about virtues common to all cultures, religions and ethnicities…honesty, responsibility, compassion, courage, self-discipline, friendship, loyalty, respect, faith, humility, generosity, perseverance, determination, trustworthiness, integrity, gratitude, selflessness, honor, patience, charity, leadership, citizenship, diligence, moderation, wisdom, and work ethic. Using children’s literature is a great way to teach and show examples of values and morals. When it comes to discipline, I have always tried to be proactive, by teaching the expected behaviors. Morris (1996) states that discipline fits into two broad categories, reactive and proactive. Reactive discipline is punishment without instruction and often includes exclusionary methods. Proactive discipline is when a plan is in place for how to deal with behavior issues before they arise and has a teaching element to it. Morris (1996) states that the majority of research that he studied showed that the proactive approach to discipline is more effective than the reactive form. However, the reactive approach seems to be much more common in schools. How can children learn if they aren’t taught how to correct the mistake they made? When mistakes were made in my home, I let my kids know that it was their behavior that I was disappointed with, and not them as a person.

I have taken in all that I have learned throughout my life, from the church, Catholic school, family, parenting, teacher education, and life experiences, to develop my values, morals, and ethics as an educator. I want my students to become happy, contributing citizens. I feel that promoting a Growth Mindset philosophy with my students embodies many of the values that I want to impart as an educator. Carol Dweck states that…”It matters greatly what students believe about their intelligence” (2007). The hallmarks of a fixed mindset include 1) Don’t make mistakes. 2) Don’t work hard. 3) If you make mistakes, don’t try to repair them (Dweck, 2007). In contrast, growth mindsets have the following characteristics…1) Take on challenges. 2) Work hard. 3) Confront your deficiencies and correct them (Dweck, 2007). “Building resilience means fostering children’s sense of agency (the knowledge that they are in control of their actions) and self-efficacy (the belief that they are competent and capable) and developing a framework for approaching problems” (Pawlina & Stanford, 2011).  I try to praise students for their effort and not for their ability. Students should see challenges and the effort to work through them as the norm and not the exception. “…problems and challenges are chances to ‘grow our brains’, which makes people feel strong, happy, and excited to learn new things” (Pawlina & Stanford, 2011).  It is important for me to help my students to understand that learning something new takes quite a bit of time and that “practice makes better”. Reframing mistakes as opportunities for their brains to grow changes students’ attitudes about making mistakes and taking on new challenges. “Researchers have found that in dozens of studies that students with a growth mindset improve more in academics and other skills, and can even be less aggressive and more socially engaged” (Sparks, 2013). The research is very promising regarding teaching and promoting a growth mindset in the classroom. Sparks quotes David Dockterman from the Harvard School of Education. He says, “When kids play video games, they fail 80 percent of the time. They look at failure there as an opportunity to learn. However, students can find school mistakes humiliating” (Sparks, 2013). “Praising students’ strategies, focus, effort, persistence, and improvement takes the spotlight off fixed ability and puts it on the process of learning” (Sparks, 2013). If a parent comes in with a fixed mindset and believes that their child cannot achieve to the degree we feel that they can, I can explain to them the research behind Growth Mindset. If on the other hand, a parent is upset about their child’s mistakes, I can discuss with them how mistakes are a part of the learning process and help them to understand that a child can learn from their mistakes and achieve more through not having a fear of making mistakes. I feel that teaching my students about Growth Mindset and having a proactive approach to discipline both help my students to feel that my love for them is not conditional on their behavior or their academic achievement. I want them to know that I want the best for them and that I am here to guide them, support them, encourage them, and celebrate them.

I also believe that to help students to become happy, successful citizens, we need to teach in a culturally responsive manner. Our lives have become much more global than they once were. If our curriculum doesn’t mirror the broader culture we live in, we are missing out on a rich opportunity for our students to see beyond their own communities, state, or country. In addition to this, by teaching using multicultural curriculum, we are also helping all our students to learn more about themselves and others. We are helping to validate the differences in cultures and to have our students see the value that they and others bring to our world. I have found this to be true within my own class groups. Our district recently adopted a new reading curriculum that has caught my students’ attention. For example, a few of the stories have been about people of Mexican descent and many of my students’ families are originally from Mexico. My students got very excited when we were reading these stories that portrayed foods, customs, and other aspects of daily life that they could relate to. Another recent story we read was an East Indian folktale. I had never heard this story before, but two of my Indian students recognized it and felt more connected to the class because of it. I am very happy that our new curriculum takes a more multicultural approach to the teaching of reading.

Culture plays an enormous role in how people communicate. Spoken language is just encoded culture and different cultures have languages, accents, and dialects which can create barriers with others who are not familiar with them. Communication goes well beyond just talk. Eye contact, physical movements, and voice inflections are all based on cultural norms. I find it interesting to think about how different cultures’ group interactions oftentimes differ. For example, a Southern Baptist church where everyone talks or responds out loud, is in direct contrast to the typical Protestant church, where everyone is silent and listens to the priest or pastor speak. In the classroom, we need to keep these cultural communication styles in mind as we relate to our students. In typical schools, the majority of time is spent with the teacher talking and the students listening (passive-receptive) and teachers tend to ask convergent questions. This however, is in opposition with how many students have been brought up in their home cultures. Some cultures tend to ask more divergent questions of their children and don’t follow turn-taking protocols. We need to be aware of these differences and adapt our teaching styles to fit the needs of all of our students. Group work tends to work well for some cultures, so a combination of group and individual work could be more effective. If a parent is upset by the multicultural stories and topics taught within the curriculum, I would explain to them that by teaching in a culturally responsive manner, we help our students to feel valued as individuals and teach them to become more open and accepting of others. This I feel is an important piece of the moral socialization puzzle.

“We will argue that ‘moral education’ is an umbrella term for two quite different tasks and approaches. The first, which might better be called moral ‘socialization’ or ‘training’, is the task of nurturing in children those virtues and values that make them good people. The second task of moral education is to provide students with the intellectual resources that enable them to make informed and responsible judgments about difficult matters of moral importance. Both are proper and important tasks of schools…” (Nord & Haynes, 1998). As an elementary teacher, in general, I feel that moral socialization is the most developmentally appropriate. How do we determine though what values to include in our moral socialization? Some may feel that it is not the school’s place to teach morals and values and that it should be done in the home by the family. There is however, a difference between educating and indoctrinating. In response to critics of moral education, I might reply with something like what David Copp (2016) stated, “With moral socialization, we aim to teach children to act and feel in ‘prosocial’ ways, and we teach this for the sake of their own happiness–since fitting into groups is a precondition for finding friendships and for having successful careers, and so on–and also for the sake of successful functioning of the classroom–since classroom teaching cannot succeed if the children interrupt, and cheat, and steal from one another and so on.” At my current school, we use the book, The Essential 55, by Ron Clark (2004) to help our students to develop values for success in the classroom and in life. We also have a Kindness Challenge each week to encourage positive behavior, kindness, helpfulness, and more. These are just a few of the ways that we as a staff help our students to develop values and morals that will help them to lead happy, successful lives.

I feel that my values of unconditional love, Growth Mindset, and moral socialization are critically important in my role as a teacher and future educational administrator. These values are the foundation for my professional decisions and I will help critics understand that for students to lead happy, moral, and successful lives, they need to have a strong character foundation. Students need to view learning as something not just done in school and must strive to continually want to learn and experience new things. It’s important that students know they are valued as individuals and that they are unconditionally loved to thrive and achieve their full potential. In my opinion, these values are very secular in nature and do not pit one religion or culture over another. I feel that they are inclusive and almost always recognized as values that should be taught and encouraged at school.

 

References

Houston, P. D., Blankstein, A. M., & Cole, R. W. (2008). Spirituality in educational leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Wirzba, N. (2016). Way of love: recovering the heart of Christianity. New York, NY:       HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins .

Copp, D. (2016). Moral Education versus Indoctrination. Theory And Research In Education,      14(2), 149-167.

Bennett, W. J. (1998). The children’s book of virtues. New York: Scholastic Inc.

            The Adventures of the Book of Virtues [Television series]. (n.d.). PBS.

Clark, R. (2015). The essential 55: an award-winning educator’s rules for discovering the            successful student in every child. New York: Hachette Books.

Pawlina, S., & Stanford, C. (2011). Preschoolers grow their brains: Shifting mindsets for greater resiliency and better problem solving. YC Young Children, 66(5), 30-35.

Sparks, S. D. (2013). ‘Growth Mindset’ Gaining Traction As Ed. Strategy. Education Week,          33(3), 1-21.

Morris, R. C. (1996). Contrasting disciplinary models in education. Thresholds in Education,       22(4), 7-13.

Nord, W. A., & Haynes, C. C. (1998). Taking religion seriously across the curriculum.     Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Dweck, C. S. (2007). Boosting Achievement with Messages that Motivate. Education Canada,     47(2), 6-10.

 

 

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Teacher Leadership Standard 8: Present professional practice for the review of colleagues

lesson-plans-and-aims

The course goals of Accomplished Teaching were…

  • Examine and implement effective planning/preparation, instruction and assessment strategies from Domains 1 and 3 of the Danielson Framework to maximize student learning.
  • Analyze the impact of instruction on student learning through personal and collaborative reflection on 1) written lesson plans, 2) videotaped segments of instruction/learning, and 3) student work.
  • Practice the fundamentals of individual, partner, and small group reflective practice to promote continuous learning. (Domain 4 of Danielson Framework: Professional Responsibilities)

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Individual and collaborative reflective practices are critical components of effective teaching. At the beginning of this course, I thought about how I was reflective in my teaching practice. Through my recent National Board certification process, I reflected on my practice individually, as well as in groups within my cohort. Through videotaping and analyzing my lessons, I was better able to see where I was successful in a lesson and also where I could improve in the future. Through the process of obtaining my National Boards in literacy, I was also able to build up my skills in my current content area of reading intervention (Danielson 1a, 4a, 4e). Another way that I have been reflective in my teaching practice is through our building Data Teams process. I work with my team to look at student assessment data, analyze effective and ineffective teaching strategies, and design lessons to maximize student understanding and learning growth (Danielson 1e, 3e, 4a, 4d). I also reflect and make adjustments during and directly after a lesson. If I see that students are struggling with a concept or that something is hindering a student’s clear understanding of the lesson, I will either make adjustments at that moment, or will change things up for the next day. I take into account the struggles that my students are having and come up with a strategy or strategies that I think will be most effective in helping them understand and get the most out of the lesson (Danielson 3c, 3e, 4a). As a Safety Net (reading and math intervention) teacher, I consistently team up with different grade level teachers to learn more about the students I’m working with, share assessment data, and communicate back and forth on student progress and teaching strategies that might work best for those students (Danielson 1b, 4a, 4d, 4e). Continuously reflecting on my teaching practices, both individually and with others, helps me to become a more effective teacher.

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Throughout this course we have gone much deeper into learning about what it means to reflect. We analyzed the Danielson Framework and how it can be a guide for us in our reflective practices. The Danielson model is a research-based teacher evaluation framework. Studies have shown that students who made high levels of growth had teachers who exhibited or used certain instructional techniques and strategies. These high quality teacher attributes and best practices were combined together to create the Danielson Framework. This model is a very thorough evaluation tool that can be used by schools to help determine teachers’ strengths and weaknesses. It can be used to weed out less effective teachers and to help guide principals in creating positive changes within their staff. The domains and their subsets can be used as springboards for staff development, teacher improvement, and  goal setting. The framework also helps to create a more uniform and equitable evaluation system, so all principals in a district are using the same criteria for assessment. The framework is an excellent guideline for teachers to use to see where their current teaching practice falls and what they can do to improve their skills.

To be a reflective educator we must be committed to our own continual professional development. A reflective educator also stays focused on student learning and development as their top priorities. In addition, reflection requires drawing on our past experiences, but also being willing to listen and take into account different ideas and perspectives in order to learn and build up the tools in our educational toolboxes. This quote from the book shows how challenging, yet rewarding being a reflective teacher can be… “Significant learning generally involves fluctuating episodes of anxiety-producing self-scrutiny and energy-inducing leaps forward in ability and understanding” (Brookfield, 1992, p. 12).

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There are many things that can impede the process of reflection. It is oftentimes hard to challenge our current beliefs and biases. We get stuck in our ways and in our ideas. In order to be reflective, we must be open to looking at alternative theories and suggestions. We must be open-minded. If we are reflecting with a partner or in a group, sometimes it can be hard to stay focused and listen. Oftentimes, we want to jump in with our own ideas, when we should be listening and processing what the others are saying. Reflective practices can also fail when the topic is not personally meaningful or relevant to those involved. If there is a lack of trust, people will be unwilling to share their thoughts and ideas. Lack of trust is a huge barrier to reflection.

expert

During this course, we also analyzed what it means to be an accomplished teacher. Through individual reflection I came up with the following list of the attributes of an accomplished teacher.

  • Uses formative and summative assessment
  • Asks higher level questions
  • Has high expectations
  • Involves parents
  • Instills a love of learning
  • Uses research based strategies
  • Includes students by sharing learning goals, rubrics, and success criteria
  • Gives students feedback
  • Is guided by Common Core standards
  • Is a team player with other staff
  • Is reflective with self and others
  • Finds opportunities for improvement and learning
  • Is a good listener
  • Encourages and motivates students
  • Instruction is data driven
  • Differentiates instruction
  • Scaffolds instruction (I do – We do – You do)
  • Knowledgeable about resources
  • Good communication skills
  • Coaches students individually and in small groups
  • Teaches students that they are responsible for their own learning
  • Encourages active student participation
  • Excellent classroom management and systems and routines
  • Positive attitude
  • Uses a variety of media and teaching resources
  • Adaptable and flexible
  • Inspires students
  • Compassionate
  • Capitalizes on teachable moments and student interests

Research

In Module 5 of Accomplished Teaching, we researched articles that illustrated an aspect of accomplished teaching. We also read other students’ articles, as well. The article that I chose was, Mindsets – How to Motivate Students (and Yourself) (2013). Reading this article helped me to understand how to cultivate a growth mindset within myself and with my students. Someone with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence is innate and static. Someone with a growth mindset feels that skills and abilities can be learned. The article shares ways to teach your students to develop a growth mindset. It talks about different types of praise and what works best for developing a growth mindset. It also discusses how we need to change our thinking about frustration and confusion during learning and that it is part of the process of building skills and learning. It also discusses the importance of giving students feedback and what that feedback should look like.

What I learned throughout this course is that an accomplished teacher takes time to reflect individually about her own practice. It is hard to carve out this time in an already over-packed week, but it is very important to fit in time to process your teaching and your students’ learning. After doing this, you can decide to make changes in your instruction or to remember which strategies were particularly effective. In addition, it is important to reflect with other staff members. A PCC team is a great avenue to share ideas and reflect with a team of educators. The PCC team uses formative and summative assessments to drive instruction. The team also focuses on Common Core standards and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each student. They discuss differentiated strategies that they feel will improve student learning for all students, whether they are remedial or advanced. An accomplished teacher takes the time to listen to other teachers’ ideas and takes a look at multiple perspectives. She encourages others to share and offers a non-judgmental atmosphere for reflection and teamwork.

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An accomplished teacher is always striving to better herself and her practice. She attends classes, seminars, and trainings and shares her learning with her colleagues. An accomplished teacher always keeps students and their learning as the top priority and encourages others to do the same.  We need to remember that we don’t know everything, we are always learning and improving, and that we and our colleagues have a vast amount of knowledge and experience to share with each other. We also need to remember that learning takes time and we and others will be making many mistakes as we learn. That’s OK! It’s part of learning and we need to give ourselves and others permission to make mistakes and not be perfect.

collaborate

During this course we also had the opportunity to team up with another student and collaboratively plan lessons that we would teach to our students. As a teacher, this is something that we rarely have time to do in practice, but it was very helpful. Discussing and asking each other questions about our prospective lessons helped us to clarify and reflect on our thinking and planning. After we taught our lessons, we watched each other’s videotaped lessons and reflected on how the lessons progressed. We offered feedback to each other and commented on these new ideas. Teaching is most often an isolating profession, but taking time to work with, or observe another teacher can help us to hone our own craft and also share our ideas with others.

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At the end of the course, I researched best practice strategies for teaching multiplication facts. Van de Walle suggests some great strategies to help students master these facts. Two good websites that he recommends are www.fun4thebrain.com, which has fun fact practice games and http://kentuckymathematics.org/pimser_printables.php, which has printables for teaching and practicing math facts (Van de Walle, Karp, & Bay-Williams, 2013). Another effective strategy is using music and rhymes to help students to remember their multiplication facts. “When information is put to rhythm and rhyme these musical elements will provide a hook for recall. Songs, chants, poems, and raps will improve memory of content facts and details through rhyme, rhythm, and melody.” (Brewer, 2012)

I plan to intentionally teach my students the various multiplicative strategies that Van de Walle suggests. I also plan to focus on math fact families instead of clumping them all together at once. I intend to use story problems to help my students to get a real world feel for the patterns among the various facts. I also plan to focus on the commutative property of multiplication so that they see that the number of facts they need to learn will be cut in half. I plan to use YouTube videos with songs and rhymes for the different fact families to help my students internalize the facts in a fun and interactive way. I will incorporate computer games to help my students to master and maintain mastery of the different multiplication facts.

support-us

I am supporting my colleagues in our reflective practice by sharing these findings with my fourth grade data team. We are focusing on multiplication for our Professional Growth Goal and in our data team cycles. These strategies and findings will be helpful to all of us in order to help us reach our goals. As we try out these different strategies, we will come back together and reflect on student learning and either adjust our teaching or continue on with additional strategies. In addition to sharing my research paper with my team, I am also sharing all the resources and the YouTube videos that I am finding to help our students learn their facts through rhyme and song. By sharing and reflecting with other teachers, we can improve our teaching and the success of our students (York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, & Montie, 2006)

intentional

Based on everything that I have learned during this quarter in my Accomplished Teaching class, I am much more intentional in my lesson planning and teaching to incorporate the attributes of accomplished teachers. I keep the Danielson Framework in mind throughout my role as a teacher. This year, I have been more intentional about including my students and their parents in the learning process. I have started sending home weekly emails to parents to let them know what we are working on and what the current vocabulary or sight words are, so that they can support their students at home. I have also invited them all to our Safety Net Haiku December 2015 067page, which has multiple resources and information on reading and math support. I have made charts for my students so that they can graph their progress and track their learning. I set up accounts for my students on our reading curriculum (Wonders) Adaptive Learning. The students can work on increasing their literacy skills online at home with fun games and activities.

share

I have also been sharing my learning and the new resources with my colleagues throughout the building and on my PCC data team. In addition, I have been team teaching with one of our fourth grade teachers for daily math instruction. We collaborate and reflect on a daily basis about our teaching and student learning. Based on the learning in this class, I am now more cognizant of what it means to effectively reflect with a partner. I try to listen more, learn from my partner teacher’s strategies and ideas, and give feedback on what I feel is working and what needs to be adjusted. I have also learned to not feel as bad when receiving feedback from others and was reminded that we all make mistakes and that it is a learning process to improve your practice. This was clearly illustrated this past week during one of our math lessons. I was teaching the group and feeling really good about how the lesson was going. I thought that the students were mostly “getting it”. After the lesson, the other teacher and I had time to reflect when the kids went to their specialist class. She told me that the instruction time was too long and that I had lost some of the kids. Wow, that was contrary to what I had been thinking. This group of fourth grade students is a very challenging one. Many of the students don’t feel like they are good at math and have motivation issues. At first, when the teacher had given me her feedback, my mind jumped to a defensive mode. Then I stepped back and thought about what she had said. We discussed it some more and in the future, I will be more thoughtful about keeping my lessons to a shorter time frame. Reflection, both individual and with others is critical to improving teaching practice and becoming a more accomplished teacher.

 

References

Brookfield, S. (1992). Why can’t I get this right? Myths and realities in facilitating adult learning. Adult learning, 3(6), 12.

York-Barr, J., Sommers, W., Ghere, G., & Montie, J. (2006). Reflective practice to improve schools: An action guide for educators (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Mindsets: How to motivate students (and yourself).(2013). Educational Horizons, 91(2), 16-21. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ999522&site=ehost-live; http://pilambda.org/horizons/mindsets/

Brewer, C. B. (2012). Music and learning: Integrating music in the classroom. Retrieved 11/29, 2015, from http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/Arts%20in%20Education/brewer.htm

Van de Walle, John A., Karp, K. S., & Bay-Williams, J. M. (2013). Reasoning strategies for multiplication and division facts. In K. Villella Canton (Ed.), Elementary and middle school mathematics teaching developmentally (Eighth ed., pp. 181-182, 183, 184, 186) Pearson.

 

 

 

 

Teacher Leadership Standard 12: Evaluate and use technology for teaching and learning

ISTE Standards

Students should be afforded the opportunity to develop their technology skills throughout their schooling career. The International Society for Technology in Education has created standards for both students and teachers. Students should be using technology for communication, collaboration, and research. They should learn to operate different types of technology and software as well as learn to be good digital citizens. Students should be able to use their creativity and innovate through the use of technology. Please follow this link for the full ISTE Student Standards.

Teachers have the responsibility to provide these opportunities for their students. Teachers should be creating learning experiences and assessments with the use of technology. They should also be teaching students digital citizenship in addition to providing opportunities for students to express their creativity and learn content through the use of various technologies and media experiences. Teachers should be modeling the proper use of technology and should also be learning about and attending professional development classes on new and emerging technologies. Please follow this link for the full ISTE Teacher Standards.

Communication and Presentations

In EdTech class we used Office Mix to practice an example of how we could use technology in our classes to have students learn new vocabulary words. It was very engaging and motivating. We worked with a partner, so the process was interdependent. We learned the new vocabulary words, worked together, learned how to use new tech tools, and created a presentation. The presentation also helped other students in class learn our vocabulary words through a quiz that we embedded at the end of our PowerPoint presentation. We then posted our link to our collaboration space in OneNote.

I teach small groups of students in my Safety Net reading groups. We focus on learning new vocabulary words each week. I can see how this would be very effective with my students. The hardest part will be the time constraints that I have. Each group ends up being about 25 minutes long, so we would just get started and have to stop each day. Also, we are expected to keep up with the in class reading curriculum as well. I think the technology we used in this lesson improved student learning because it was motivating and tied to something that most kids find interesting (zombies).

Through the process of creating the PowerPoint using Office Mix, students were able to use their vocabulary words in context. They really needed to understand the words before they could incorporate them into their zombie stories. Even though this took a chunk of time to complete, hopefully the retention of the vocabulary words would save time in the long run.

In class, we also discussed communication and technology (between ourselves and parents, students, and staff). We thought about what types of communication might be automated. At the beginning of this class, I didn’t have much tech communication with my students’ parents. I have since invited them all to our Safety Net Haiku site and I have been sending them regular emails with student progress and how they can help at home.

Some of the ways that were discussed in class on how technology can improve communication were:

  • Class webpage: posting calendar events, class info, and handouts
  • Blog: Posting homework or reflections on a class project
  • Podcast: Post a weekly newsletter in audio format
  • Twitter: Homework assignments posted
  • QR Codes: Gives homework assignments so that students don’t have to write things down
  • ActivBoard: Lessons taught here and posted for absent students

In class we also talked about using Twitter to network with other professionals in the field. We learned about Twitter Chats and how to find education related chats. We can also search #edtech to find other tweeters to follow.

Digital Citizenship is ISTE Teacher Standard #4 – Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility. It is also ISTE Student Standard #5 – Digital Citizenship. But you might be wondering just exactly what digital citizenship is? There are four main areas within digital citizenship…

  • Copyright and intellectual property
  • Access to appropriate tools and resources
  • Digital etiquette
  • Global awareness
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Technology and social media are so much a part of our everyday lives. We as teachers need to model correct technology usage and also teach our students what it means to be good digital citizens. Social media is a huge part of our social identity and students must learn to protect it even from a young age. Adults can be hasty with what they post online, but kids by nature are even more impulsive. Students should be shown how what they post on the internet will live on throughout their lives. Students should also learn about appropriate tools for research online and how to site the sources that they use. They need to be able to determine which sources are reliable and which are not. They should be aware of what cyber bullying is and how to make sure that they don’t become one and what to do if someone is cyber bullying them.

All of this sounds a bit overwhelming. Along with everything else that teachers must cover during the school year. We wonder how to fit this in and how we go about covering it appropriately. There are an enormous number of resources available to help us with this task. I have been doing some research for upper elementary student resources for teaching digital citizenship and have found quite a few great ones that I can use with my own students.

I had my fourth grade before school reading group students conduct a research project and I taught digital citizenship as we progressed through the project. I printed off a couple of great posters from www.commonsensemedia.org that I posted in the room and went over with the kids.

Digital Citizenship poster

Digital Citizenship pledge

Live Binder has some great digital citizenship resources for all ages. Live Binder Digital Citizenship

On Live Binder, there is a link to a Phineas and Ferb game on digital citizenship to play with your students. http://dolimg-emea.disneycdn.com/cdn_assets/d11164ed513af433c01852f1a9750b55bf8e2e30.pdf

There is a good video called Pause and Think Online that puts digital citizenship into a catchy song and cartoon that I think would be fun and stick in kids’ minds. Pause-Think-Online

A couple of other good videos from Common Sense Media are “Power of Words” and “Follow the Digital Trail”: Digital Citizenship videos

I also found some great YouTube videos that are short and will capture my students’ attention and should help them to understand what digital citizenship means in their lives. Here’s one on copyright called “Site Your Sources”:

I also showed my students where to go on our LWSD student portal to find appropriate research databases and also how to find the citation maker resource.

In my SPU EdTech class we participated in a fun and creative lesson that incorporated technology and teamwork. We all learned how to use a Sphero with the downloaded app and the Sphero http://www.sphero.com/ robot balls.

Our little Sphero’s were racing around the room, running into everything! At the time, I was wondering what we were going to do with the Spheros, other than sending them careening out of control around the room. It was fun, but how was it going to help us in our teaching practice? After we all settled back into our seats, our instructor showed us the new Microsoft Sway https://sway.com/ product. It is similar to PowerPoint, but a bit different. We are all getting a bit burned out with PowerPoint, so it was fun to learn about another presentation tool that we could use. He gave us the assignment to research chariots and the history of chariots and make a Sway with our research information and photos that we found online. We worked with our partners to collaboratively create a Sway about chariots. In the back of my mind, I was still wondering about those crazy Spheros that we had started class with. When we finished our Sway presentations, our instructor informed us that each partner group would be constructing a chariot out of odds and ends materials and things like Kinex toys. Here’s where the Spheros finally came in. We had to make the chariot so that it could be powered by the Sphero ball and we would be testing them out in a race against the other groups’ chariots! Spoiler alert… Our team came in third out of three. We actually never even crossed the finish line. However, even though we dismally failed at the race, we worked together collaboratively as a team to create a chariot, based on the research in our Sway and with the use of Sphero technology.

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We also learned about Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) and the Microsoft 21st Century Learning Design rubrics. There are six different areas that the study determined were critical in developing 21st century learners. They are:

  • Collaboration
  • Knowledge construction
  • Self-regulation
  • Real-world problem-solving and innovation
  • The use of ICT for learning
  • Skilled communication

Each of these rubrics is based on a 5 point scale. Their purpose is to help teachers to incorporate these skills into their lessons. It also gives educators a way to assess whether their current lessons are addressing these areas by giving them a way to score their lessons using the rubric criteria for each of the six areas.

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Last year I attended a very unique conference. In fact it was called an “un-conference”. I attended EdCamp Puget Sound at Seattle Pacific University. Instead of having an agenda put together before the conference, the participants created the agenda together, based on what they wanted to discuss. As we arrived, they asked us to write any topics that we wanted to share about or learn about on the white board. We were also asked to put a check mark by any of the other participants’ topics that interested us. Then, after about 20 minutes, the facilitator took all of the topics that we had generated on the board and compiled them into session headings on a schedule for the day. We discussed them briefly and provided clarification. We combined like topics and came up with a few additional ones as well. Each session was assigned a room and time slot. There were six sessions going for an hour each, for a total of three hours (18 total sessions). Each person got to choose which session during each time slot that they wanted to attend. Once in a session, someone could take the lead or everyone could just discuss the topic and learn from each other. I thought this was a very inventive way to run a conference. It took less preparation for the coordinators, offered topics that truly interested the participants, and we got to learn from the expertise of everyone in the room.

Before we broke into our different sessions, we did an icebreaker activity from www.gonoodle.com. The activities from this site, get everyone up and moving. They are often called “brain breaks” and would be great to use with your students.

I attended two sessions at the conference. The first one was called “Theory of Mind and Challenging Behaviors” and the second one was “Gender and Diversity in the Classroom”.

goals

I feel that I was successful in achieving my goals.1 (Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity)

  • 1a – Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness.
  • 2 (Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments)
  • 2a – Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.

However, I did not meet the goals in the way that I had thought about at the beginning of the course. I also felt like I had little technology to work with. As a Safety Net teacher, I have had to be very creative in how I use the technology that I do have with my students, but I feel that I have been more successful than I thought I could be.

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  • 1 (Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity)
  • 1a – Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness.

I met this goal by having my before school reading group do a research project on a topic that we had been working on in our reading curriculum. They learned about the “5 Star Research Process” and used the district approved online databases. They compiled their notes and created their own PowerPoint presentation that they shared with their classes and their parents.

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  • 2 (Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessment)
  • 2a – Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.

I met this goal by using technology in a variety of ways for my students to learn and show their learning. I have been using the online reading curriculum materials with my students by having students watch the stories from the work text being read aloud to them. This helps to bring the stories to life and holds their attention well. I have also set my students up with accounts through our Wonders reading curriculum to play online vocabulary games and literacy games through the Adaptive Learning program. Some of my students are even playing these games at home. In the 4th grade math class that I team teach with one of the 4th grade teachers, I have been finding YouTube videos to help students learn their multiplication facts through songs and rhymes. We are also having them play games on www.multiplication.com. I have also been using online reading and math assessments.

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I will continue to look at my lesson planning through a technology lens. Now that I have learned about the ISTE tech standards and the 21st Century Learning Rubrics, I am more intentional about meeting them by incorporating these goals into my lessons. Now I think… How can I use technology to enhance or guide this lesson? How can technology increase my students’ motivation? How can technology help my students learn more efficiently and help them to retain their learning? How can technology streamline my teaching, record keeping, and communication? I also plan to continue to share my technology learning and new tech ideas with my teammates and staff. I also plan to continue learning from others about new ideas and resources.

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I feel that technology is an integral part of my classroom. Technology is pervasive in everything we and our students do in life. They are motivated by it and need to learn how to use it appropriately and safely. New technology tools are constantly being created. Through my SPU EdTech  class I learned about the possibilities and about my responsibilities as an educator to use technology to inform, educate, and inspire my students. Technology also helps me to communicate with my colleagues and with the families of my students. I’m seeing how I can encourage families to become more active partners in their children’s education through online communication and by providing them with the tools to do so.

References

ISTE Standards FORSTUDENTS. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2017, from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students

Standards for Teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2017, from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-teachers

Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2017, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/

Digital Citizenship Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2017, from http://www.livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=34991

Digital Citizenship | Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2017, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/video/educators/digital-citizenship?page=1

GoNoodle. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2017, from https://www.gonoodle.com/

Teacher Leadership Standard 6: Communicate and collaborate with a variety of stakeholders

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Teacher Leadership Standard 6: Communicate and collaborate with a variety of stakeholders.

Communicates regularly and effectively with colleagues, parents, and students through a variety of mediums. Collaborates with other professionals to bridge gaps between schools and community and between departments/disciplines within schools.

 COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course addresses the responsibilities of professional educators beyond the classroom, specifically communication and collaboration with peers, colleagues, administration, district and state personnel. Teacher leadership and school improvement processes provide the framework for these explorations of effective collaboration.

RELATED COURSE GOALS:

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Competence

  1. Students will plan appropriate actions for improving communication and collaboration within the school setting.

Character

  1. Students will examine factors related to collaborating with peers that hinder or promote student learning.

 

Teacher Leadership

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Teacher leadership is a critical component of school improvement. Over the years, this idea has come to the forefront of educational thought. In the past, leadership within the school was thought to reside only within the ranks of management. As educators, it is our paramount duty to believe that all students can and will be successful. We are charged with making connections with all students and making sure that they have what they need to succeed. This is regardless of where they come from, who they are, what their race, nationality, religion, etc. is. Since we have moved education beyond just meeting the needs of the ‘average’ student, we have found that this task is much too large for only the school administration to effectively pursue. As the African saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, so it is the same for educating a child. Principals, teachers, parents, and students all need to come together and embrace a vision for school change that helps to move learning forward. Teachers have stepped up to the task and are working together and collaborating for school improvement and improved student learning. I have experienced this first hand within the schools that I have taught in. Teachers become leaders on committees and team up with others to bring about needed changes within the school. In addition, I have been participating on collaborative data teams for many years. We work together to determine student needs, research strategies and techniques to bring about desired results, try out those strategies, assess our students, analyze the data, and make decisions together about whether those strategies brought about the improvements we had hoped for or determine what other strategies we might try next. These cycles happen on a continuous basis throughout the year. We are constantly communicating with each other and collaborating to help all students to succeed.

Adult Learning Theory

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Zepeda (2008) explained that there in not just one theory of adult learning. However, she states that… “The cornerstone of successful professional development is the way in which adults are engaged in learning (Zepeda, 2008).” Adult learning should be active, experiential, self-directed, and based on projects. The learning should be relevant and meaningful to the adult learner.

There are similarities and differences between how adults and children learn. Adults and children are both motivated to learn about things that are relevant to their lives and that they have an interest in. Children, however, must learn all subject areas in school, some of which they might not be interested in or feel have a relevance to their lives. Adults, on the other-hand, are typically learning new things because they are interested in them or know that they will help further their careers or hobbies. Children don’t get a choice about what they learn. Whereas adults usually choose the direction of their learning. Adults also have many more life experiences from which they can draw, than do children. Adults are more self-directed in their learning than is typical of children’s learning. One of the similarities of learning for both adults and children is that learning can and oftentimes should be social. Working in groups and sharing ideas is a great way for both children and adults to learn. Also, making learning active, concrete and hands-on for both adults and children helps to keep them involved and motivated.

The following is a list that I have come up with related to adult learning theory. This list is based on readings and discussions that I have participated in throughout this course.

Adult Learning Theory Characteristics

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  • trust
  • collaboration
  • active engagement
  • project based
  • enjoyable experience
  • respect
  • personal interactions
  • small groups better for communication and learning
  • leaders encouraging yet insistent
  • supportive
  • important goals
  • relevant learning
  • can be used right away
  • clear road-map to final outcome
  • inquiry
  • reflections
  • conversations
  • sense of purpose based on core beliefs
  • ongoing and long-term learning – not one shot events
  • ownership
  • value participant’s experience and ideas
  • follow-up support
  • job-embedded learning
  • connected to current job context
  • Different modalities of learning (provide for different learning styles)
  • self-directed
  • action learning
  • experiential learning
  • sharing of information
  • informed by research
  • social

Utilizing Teacher Expertise

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I like the ideas that Zepeda offers in chapter 4. She suggests that we have teachers fill out a faculty expertise survey (p. 74). On page 79 she suggests that we create an “In-House Professional Development Resources” list with the teacher’s names, subject areas or grade levels they teach, and areas of expertise/interest. This could help both the administrators and the staff. Administrators would know who might be able to lead or help with professional development in different areas. In addition, if the staff has this information, they could go to one of their colleagues for help or ideas on a certain topic. Finally, this would hopefully boost morale and each teacher’s self-confidence, because they know that their skills and experience are valued and honored. I would love to learn more about my colleagues and would love to help others in areas that I have more experience.

Collaborative Book Studies

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I have done two book club study groups that were offered through our district to Safety Net teachers. There was a list of books we could choose from. These groups were voluntary and we could get clock hours for participating. We got a group of teachers together and chose a book. The district purchased the books and gave them to us. We picked our dates and times that we would meet. We split the book up by chapters to read before each meeting. The district gave us discussion questions as a guide to structure our meetings. We decided to meet at a restaurant and have appetizers while we discussed the books. This made for a much more relaxed environment and got us out of the school building. It was also a great team building experience. We learned a great deal about the topic, learned more about each other, had fun, and got clock hours. It was a great experience. They offer these book clubs multiple times a year. I haven’t been able to participate in the last two years however, due to having so much work in my Master’s program.

Professional Development Plan

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If I were to change how PD was done at my school, I would work with the staff to analyze our continuous improvement plan (CIP), collaborate together to determine areas of learning needs and make sure they were aligned to our CIP, school and district visions. I would also take an inventory of the staff to find out what each person’s areas of expertise were, in order to have resources to draw from. I would create an overarching plan, go over it with staff, and post it for all to see. We would continually revisit our needs and make adjustments or additions to our PD plan. I would also love to offer book study groups as a PD option, as well.

Professional Learning and Collaboration

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“People are more likely to be ambitious and industrious when five conditions are satisfied” (Zepeda, 2013, p. 2).

  1. Success seems feasible on goals that are clearly defined;
  2. The goals seem important;
  3. The experience is enjoyable;
  4. Supervisors are both encouraging and insistent;
  5. Peers are supportive.

“People need to feel successful while they are learning” (Zepeda, 2013, p. 3).

According to Zepeda (2013), in order to support professional learning we should…

  • Build a supportive culture
  • Give teachers voice
  • Make student learning the focus
  • Make it research based
  • Offer job-embedded learning
  • Create opportunities for collaboration

 

Program Evaluation Should be Collaborative

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As Zepeda states on page 20 (Zepeda, 2012), program evaluation should be participatory and collaborative to be most effective. Many professional development programs and courses that I have taken have had us fill out evaluation forms at the end of the session or day. I think this is a very worthwhile exercise. They can be anonymous, so people are more comfortable putting down their thoughts. There are some important things to remember when getting this kind of feedback though. Participants should be given enough time to really think about what they want to say and suggestions they might have for future sessions. Oftentimes, this evaluation is done in a rushed way after the session is already over. Many participants just want to get home. The evaluation needs to be incorporated into the class or session time so everyone can be as thoughtful as possible when filling it out. In addition, we oftentimes feel that all of our ideas and thoughts end up in a black hole, never to emerge again. We think, why bother filling it out in the first place. However, I have been in programs and classes in which they have collected all the forms and have read them aloud to the group at the next session, showing that they value the opinions of the participants. You will get more honest feedback if the evaluation is done anonymously and if the participants know that you will be sharing the feedback with everyone. In addition, sharing that feedback might trigger additional ideas and thoughts from the group.

 

Family Engagement for Improved Student Achievement

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It is important to include parents in the decision making process and help them recognize that they are valued members of the school family. Washington State Leadership Standard Four is based on these same ideas – improving students’ learning and success by collaborating with families and the community, seeing diversity as an asset, and by acquiring and sharing knowledge and resources in order for the betterment of the school and student achievement. “A common and mistakenly held view is that learning happens only in schools. A large body of research confirms the positive relationship between family engagement and student outcomes” (Weiss & Lopez, 2015). Doing these things not only builds trust and support in our school community, but they also help to build academic success. I feel that even more can be done to embed family engagement into our everyday school processes in order to improve student learning, growth, and success.

Both family engagement and family involvement are terms used to explain ways that schools work to get families to participate in the education of their children. However, family involvement can be looked at as ‘doing to’ and family engagement can be looked at as ‘doing with’. In other words, family involvement is one-way communication from a school to families and parent engagement is two-way communication between families and the school. It is important to focus more on engagement than involvement. Instead of telling families about projects the school deems important and trying to get parents to volunteer to work on them, schools should strive to include families in the conversation to come up with what the community as a whole believes are the projects or causes that should be worked toward for school improvement and student learning. Staff should listen to families and work together with them as a team. Families should be welcomed into the school community and share in the decision making process. They will have more motivation and buy-in for the causes that they have helped to champion than in the projects that have been thrust upon them. Families are an integral and essential part of the school team. Power and authority should be shared among families and staff.

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In order to plan effective staff development in the area of engaging families to improve student learning, we need to take a look at how adults learn. Zepeda (2013) explained that there is not just one theory of adult learning. However, she stated that, “The cornerstone of successful professional development is the way in which adults are engaged in learning” Zepeda (2013). Adult learning should be active, experiential, self-directed, and project based. The learning should be relevant and meaningful to the adult learner. Adult learning should also be job embedded. “Adult learners are self-directed and their learning is optimized when their experience is recognized and utilized in the learning process” (Chen, 2014, p. 407). “The adult learner has an innate desire to learn, is an active agent in the planning and execution of her/his learning, and s/he values immediately relevant and problem solving-based learning” (Chen, 2014, p. 407).

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When working with adults, we should move away from pedagogy (children) and move more toward andragogy (adults). Andragogy is more learner-centric and pedagogy is more instructor-centric. “Andragogy focuses on the following assumptions: Adults require that the instructor provide a rationale for why they need to learn the new information prior to learning it [need to know]… adults have a defined identity… they dislike being told what to do, as is often the case in a pedagogic learning environment [self-concept]… they become fearful when placed in a pedagogic learning environment where the teacher seeks to be an authority figure, rather than a facilitator of knowledge [motivation to learn]… adults are ready to learn when they make a decision that the content to be provided in the learning experience will be helpful for their real-life activities [readiness to learn]” (Gilstrap, 2013, p503).

Based on these theories and foundations of adult learning and the idea that, “One unifying element tied to all adult learning theory is experience” (Goddu, 2012, p. 170), I plan to tap into the expertise and knowledge base of the staff at my school. They will be working together to problem-solve what types of professional development and strategies we should use to help them to improve their practice. I plan to offer guidance and a framework for learning, but plan to empower the staff to create something meaningful and motivating for them to work toward for the improvement of student learning.

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Throughout this course, I have learned a great deal about collaboration and communication. I have learned that adult learning is very different from child learning. I will definitely keep the theories of adult learning in mind when planning professional developments and learning opportunities. In addition,  I will make use of the expertise on my staff. Everyone has something that they can share and teach others about. It is important to recognize others for their gifts, talents, education, and experience and to utilize those talents to improve the culture of the school and increase student learning. Planning of professional development and the evaluation of programs and strategies should be collaborative. All stakeholders should be involved in creating a vision for the school and should be active participants in working toward that vision. Collaborating and communicating effectively with all staff and stakeholders is critical in order to make that vision a reality.

 

References:

Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., M.D., & Kelly, D.R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for    long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92 (6), 1087-1101.

Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Ballantine.

Lopez, G. (2001). The value of hard work: Lessons on parent involvement from an (im)migrant    household. Harvard Educational Review, 71, 416-437.

Chavez-Reyes, C. (2010). Inclusive approaches to parent engagement for young English   Language learners and their families. Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of        Education, 109, 474-504.

Zepeda, S. (2008). Professional Development: What Works. 2nd Edition. New York: Eye on          Education.

Chen, J.C. (2014). Teaching nontraditional adult students: Adult learning theories in practice.       Teaching in Higher Education, 19 (4), 406-418.

Gilstrap, D.L. (2013). Why do we teach? Adult learning theory in professional standards as a       basis for curriculum development. College & Research Libraries, 74 (5), 501-518.

Goddu, K. (2012). Meeting the Challenge: Teaching Strategies for Adult Learners. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(4), 169-173.

Engaging Communities Course Reflection

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The course objectives for “Engaging Communities” were:

  1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the importance of inclusive practice as it relates to engaging with parents and community members.
  2. Students will demonstrate an understanding of collaborative strategies as they relate to engaging with diverse families and community members.
  3. Students will participate in developing a school plan for improving and sustaining school-community engagement.
  4. Students will articulate how effective communication skills and strategies are essential to: market the school to enlist community support; resolve conflicts among individuals and groups; and, build common focus and collaboration to enhance student learning.

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I was excited to take this course so that I could learn more about how to engage families and community members in the educational process and student learning. I knew how important family involvement was, but I didn’t really understand the difference between involvement and engagement. Throughout the course, we learned more about how to distinguish the two and why we should be striving for engagement over involvement.

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Both family engagement and family involvement are terms used to explain ways that schools work to get families to participate in the education of their children. However, family involvement can be looked at as ‘doing to’ and family engagement can be looked at as ‘doing with’. In other words, family involvement is one-way communication from a school to families and parent engagement is two-way communication between families and the school. As a school leader, it is important to focus more on engagement than involvement. Instead of telling families about projects the school deems important and trying to get parents to volunteer to work on them, schools should strive to include families in the conversation to come up with what the community as a whole believes are the projects or causes that should be worked toward for school improvement and student learning. Staff should listen to families and work together with them as a team. Families should be welcomed into the school community and share in the decision making process. Families have more motivation and buy-in for the causes that they have helped to champion than in the projects that have been thrust upon them. Families are an integral and essential part of the school team. Power and authority should be shared among families and staff.

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During the course, I also got a chance to look more deeply into my own school and another school’s community-relations. During the first assignment, which was a school-community case study, I researched a school incident and how it was handled by the administration. I learned a great deal from this case study, as I have never had to deal with a situation involving a bb gun shooting at a bus stop. If I was a principal at this school and this incident happened, I would have followed the same steps that the Dean did while handling the investigation. I also like the idea of a district approved newsletter going out to families. In addition, I feel that I would put together some sort of training or information that would be taught to students, possibly at an assembly, focusing on students telling a trusted adult when they see something happening that shouldn’t be happening. We would also focus on telling the truth and that everyone’s safety depends on all of us watching out for each other. I would like to learn about additional strategies that I could use as a principal to build a more positive and trusting school community. In addition to the case study, I put together a Community Engagement Product (CEP), in which I took an in-depth look at my own school’s collaboration with community members. This project directly addresses WA State Standard 4 and Principal Evaluation Criteria 7. I interviewed staff members and my principal to get more information. It was interesting looking at community engagement from a variety of perspectives and also looking more closely at my school’s demographic data. It’s important that the principal reaches out to diverse groups in the school community. My principal is only in her second year of being a principal and felt that this was an area that she needed to work on. I would love to learn more about how to engage different groups within my school community.

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As far as I can tell, our staff encourages and strives to involve and engage parents. I think that the majority of them wish we had more parent engagement. Many teachers attend PTSA meetings and events to show their support. They also try to connect through newsletters, letters, websites, emails, phone calls, and home visits. One staff member who I was talking with teaches a gifted (Quest) class and has parent volunteers to run her Passport club, grade papers, and go on field trips. She also said that the Quest parents can try to be a bit too involved and want to direct how the teacher teaches. Another teacher in a general education class said, “We have a small group of extremely dedicated, hard-working volunteers!” Another teacher said, “I would like to see both involvement and engagement increased. With our ever evolving community of families from around the world, I am glad that the PTSA is trying to reach out and connect to immigrant families more.” Another Quest teacher stated, “We LOVE our parent helpers because many of our programs would not exist without them. They are instrumental at providing support to teachers and students both inside and outside the classroom. PTSA school related academic functions and afterschool programs are sustained by parent volunteers and enrich kids’ lives.” One of our ELL teachers said, “We have done a lot of things to reach out to and engage our immigrant families this year! I did home visits once a month to help build a school-home connection. I took a classroom teacher with me for most visits. Christina and I have also run ELL Family Game Nights to teach parents how to help build  English vocabulary at home. We did one game night a month focusing on one grade each time.”

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As a principal, I would work collaboratively with parents to improve student achievement. I would strive to build a trusting environment throughout the school and trusting relationship with parents. I would convey to parents the fact that we are partners in the education of their child. I would offer families strategies, materials, knowledge, resources, and supports to help them to help their child to be a successful learner. In addition, I would help families new to the country to understand the school system and the educational process. I would ask parents what their hopes and dreams are for their child and what challenges their child might have . Parents know their child better than we do. If we can help fill in information about their child, it will give us a stronger base to start from. Then we can work together with parents to come up with goals and objectives that we all feel will help their child to be a more successful learner. It is also important to find out what questions that parents might have.

As a principal I would also work to ensure that each student had equal opportunities to access learning. It would be my moral imperative to make sure that each student is learning and achieving their academic goals. In order to do this, I would need to analyze student data and test scores and communicate with staff to find out which students were struggling with their learning. I would then make sure that those students were getting the supports that they needed  (ELL, Sped, Safety Net, etc.) I would continue to look at data and collaborate with staff throughout the year to see how the students were progressing and decide as a team if any additional supports would be needed to help each student to succeed.

Through the process of completing this assignment I have learned many things. I have learned more about the difference between parent involvement and parent engagement and how important it is to actively engage parents as team members in the education of their children. I also learned that an administrator should analyze school demographics and test score data and share that with staff to get a better feel for where the school is and where they want to go from there. It’s important to include parents in the decision making process and help them feel like valued members of the school family. Washington State Leadership Standard Four is based on these same ideas – improving students learning and success by collaborating with families and the community, seeing diversity as an asset, and by acquiring and sharing knowledge and resources in order for the betterment of the school and student achievement.

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Throughout this course, we also read scholarly articles and had class discussions related to each one. The discussion that I lead was on the article “Exploring Parental Involvement Strategies Utilized by Middle School Interdisciplinary Teams” by Chris Robbins and Linda Searby (Robbins and Searby, 2013). This article was about a research study on parental involvement strategies using interdisciplinary teams at three different middle schools (affluent suburban, mid-level rural, & poverty urban). The research techniques that were used were interviews, journal questions, observations, focus groups, and questionnaires. “One of the primary purposes of middle school interdisciplinary teams is to communicate and engage parents while developing and implementing curriculum based on an adolescents’ developmental needs.” (Robbins and Searby, 2013). Effective middle school teams do the following…

  1. Understand that parent involvement plays an essential role in a child’s education
  2. Maintain an open and approachable attitude toward parents
  3. Serve as a resource to parents
    1. Know the developmental levels of adolescents and communicate these with parents as needed
    2. Help parents with home-based interventions
    3. Help parents to be aware of specific steps they can take to help their child
  4. Approach problem-solving opportunities as a team
    1. Teams meet each week to problem-solve student issues and come up with interventions
    2. Work together to implement the interventions
    3. Conference with parents as a team

 

I learned a great deal throughout this course. I enjoyed the discussion based classroom sessions. I read about many different educational issues in the assigned readings and learned even more from my peers when we talked about the articles in class. The projects helped me to look more deeply into community and family engagement within my own school and other schools. I learned more about the difference between family involvement and engagement and how to create a more inviting atmosphere and encourage family and community engagement and partnerships.

References

Robbins, C., & Searby, L. (2013). Exploring Parental Involvement Strategies Utilized by Middle School Interdisciplinary Teams. School Community Journal, 23(2), 113-136.

Cunningham, K. A. (2014). A Question of Priorities: A Critical Investigation of the McKinney-   Vento Act. Critical Questions in Education, 5(3), 218-232.

Elias, M. (2013). The School to Prison Pipeline. Teaching Tolerance, Spring, 39-43.

 

Teacher Leadership Standard 2 ( Analyze learning to promote student growth) & Standard 10 (Understand effective use of research based instructional practices)

lesson-plans-and-aims

The course goals of Accomplished Teaching were…

  • Examine and implement effective planning/preparation, instruction and assessment strategies from Domains 1 and 3 of the Danielson Framework to maximize student learning.
  • Analyze the impact of instruction on student learning through personal and collaborative reflection on 1) written lesson plans, 2) videotaped segments of instruction/learning, and 3) student work.
  • Practice the fundamentals of individual, partner, and small group reflective practice to promote continuous learning. (Domain 4 of Danielson Framework: Professional Responsibilities)

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Individual and collaborative reflective practices are critical components of effective teaching. One way that I have been reflective in my teaching practice is through our building Data Teams process. I work with my team to look at student assessment data, analyze effective and ineffective teaching strategies, and design lessons to maximize student understanding and learning growth (Danielson 1e, 3e, 4a, 4d). I also reflect and make adjustments during and directly after a lesson. If I see that students are struggling with a concept or that something is hindering a student’s clear understanding of the lesson, I will either make adjustments at that moment, or will change things up for the next day. I take into account the struggles that my students are having and come up with a strategy or strategies that I think will be most effective in helping them understand and get the most out of the lesson (Danielson 3c, 3e, 4a). As a Safety Net (reading and math intervention) teacher, I consistently team up with different grade level teachers to learn more about the students I’m working with, share assessment data, and communicate back and forth on student progress and teaching strategies that might work best for those students (Danielson 1b, 4a, 4d, 4e). Continuously reflecting on my teaching practices, both individually and with others, helps me to become a more effective teacher.

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Throughout this course we have gone much deeper into learning about what it means to reflect. We analyzed the Danielson Framework and how it can be a guide for us in our reflective practices. The Danielson model is a research-based teacher evaluation framework. Studies have shown that students who made high levels of growth had teachers who exhibited or used certain instructional techniques and strategies. These high quality teacher attributes and best practices were combined together to create the Danielson Framework. The domains and their subsets can be used as springboards for staff development, teacher improvement, and  goal setting. The framework also helps to create a more uniform and equitable evaluation system, so all principals in a district are using the same criteria for assessment. The framework is an excellent guideline for teachers to use to see where their current teaching practice falls and what they can do to improve their skills.

To be a reflective educator we must be committed to our own continual professional development. A reflective educator also stays focused on student learning and development as their top priorities. In addition, reflection requires drawing on our past experiences, but also being willing to listen and take into account different ideas and perspectives in order to learn and build up the tools in our educational toolboxes. This quote from the book shows how challenging, yet rewarding being a reflective teacher can be… “Significant learning generally involves fluctuating episodes of anxiety-producing self-scrutiny and energy-inducing leaps forward in ability and understanding” (Brookfield, 1992, p. 12).

expert

During this course, we also analyzed what it means to be an accomplished teacher. Through individual reflection I came up with the following list of the attributes of an accomplished teacher.

  • Uses formative and summative assessment
  • Asks higher level questions
  • Has high expectations
  • Involves parents
  • Instills a love of learning
  • Uses research based strategies
  • Includes students by sharing learning goals, rubrics, and success criteria
  • Gives students feedback
  • Is guided by Common Core standards
  • Is a team player with other staff
  • Is reflective with self and others
  • Finds opportunities for improvement and learning
  • Is a good listener
  • Encourages and motivates students
  • Instruction is data driven
  • Differentiates instruction
  • Scaffolds instruction (I do – We do – You do)
  • Knowledgeable about resources
  • Good communication skills
  • Coaches students individually and in small groups
  • Teaches students that they are responsible for their own learning
  • Encourages active student participation
  • Excellent classroom management and systems and routines
  • Positive attitude
  • Uses a variety of media and teaching resources
  • Adaptable and flexible
  • Inspires students
  • Compassionate
  • Capitalizes on teachable moments and student interests

What I learned throughout this course is that an accomplished teacher takes time to reflect individually about her own practice. It is hard to carve out this time in an already over-packed week, but it is very important to fit in time to process your teaching and your students’ learning. After doing this, you can decide to make changes in your instruction or to remember which strategies were particularly effective. In addition, it is important to reflect with other staff members. A PCC team is a great avenue to share ideas and reflect with a team of educators. The PCC team uses formative and summative assessments to drive instruction. The team also focuses on Common Core standards and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each student. They discuss differentiated strategies that they feel will improve student learning for all students, whether they are remedial or advanced. An accomplished teacher takes the time to listen to other teachers’ ideas and takes a look at multiple perspectives. She encourages others to share and offers a non-judgmental atmosphere for reflection and teamwork.

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An accomplished teacher always keeps students and their learning as the top priority and encourages others to do the same.  We need to remember that we don’t know everything, we are always learning and improving, and that we and our colleagues have a vast amount of knowledge and experience to share with each other. We also need to remember that learning takes time and we and others will be making many mistakes as we learn. That’s OK! It’s part of learning and we need to give ourselves and others permission to make mistakes and not be perfect.

collaborate

During this course we also had the opportunity to team up with another student and collaboratively plan lessons that we would teach to our students. As a teacher, this is something that we rarely have time to do in practice, but it was very helpful. Discussing and asking each other questions about our prospective lessons helped us to clarify and reflect on our thinking and planning. After we taught our lessons, we watched each other’s videotaped lessons and reflected on how the lessons progressed. We offered feedback to each other and commented on these new ideas. Teaching is most often an isolating profession, but taking time to work with, or observe another teacher can help us to hone our own craft and also share our ideas with others.

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At the end of the course, I researched best practice strategies for teaching multiplication facts. Van de Walle suggests some great strategies to help students master these facts. Two good websites that he recommends are www.fun4thebrain.com, which has fun fact practice games and http://kentuckymathematics.org/pimser_printables.php, which has printables for teaching and practicing math facts (Van de Walle, Karp, & Bay-Williams, 2013). Another effective strategy is using music and rhymes to help students to remember their multiplication facts. “When information is put to rhythm and rhyme these musical elements will provide a hook for recall. Songs, chants, poems, and raps will improve memory of content facts and details through rhyme, rhythm, and melody.” (Brewer, 2012)

support-us

I am supporting my colleagues in our reflective practice by sharing these findings with my fourth grade data team. We are focusing on multiplication for our Professional Growth Goal and in our data team cycles. These strategies and findings will be helpful to all of us in order to help us reach our goals. As we try out these different strategies, we will come back together and reflect on student learning and either adjust our teaching or continue on with additional strategies. In addition to sharing my research paper with my team, I am also sharing all the resources and the YouTube videos that I am finding to help our students learn their facts through rhyme and song. By sharing and reflecting with other teachers, we can improve our teaching and the success of our students (York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, & Montie, 2006)

intentional

Based on everything that I have learned during this quarter in my Accomplished Teaching class, I am much more intentional in my lesson planning and teaching to incorporate the attributes of accomplished teachers. I keep the Danielson Framework in mind throughout my role as a teacher. This year, I have been more intentional about including my students and their parents in the learning process. I have started sending home weekly emails to parents to let them know what we are working on and what the current vocabulary or sight words are, so that they can support their students at home. I have also invited them all to our Safety Net Haiku December 2015 067page, which has multiple resources and information on reading and math support. I have made charts for my students so that they can graph their progress and track their learning. I set up accounts for my students on our reading curriculum (Wonders) Adaptive Learning. The students can work on increasing their literacy skills online at home with fun games and activities.

share

I have also been sharing my learning and the new resources with my colleagues throughout the building and on my PCC data team. In addition, I have been team teaching with one of our fourth grade teachers for daily math instruction. We collaborate and reflect on a daily basis about our teaching and student learning. Based on the learning in this class, I am now more cognizant of what it means to effectively reflect with a partner. I try to listen more, learn from my partner teacher’s strategies and ideas, and give feedback on what I feel is working and what needs to be adjusted. I have also learned to not feel as bad when receiving feedback from others and was reminded that we all make mistakes and that it is a learning process to improve your practice. Reflection, both individual and with others is critical to improving teaching practice and becoming a more accomplished teacher.

 

References

Brookfield, S. (1992). Why can’t I get this right? Myths and realities in facilitating adult learning. Adult learning, 3(6), 12.

York-Barr, J., Sommers, W., Ghere, G., & Montie, J. (2006). Reflective practice to improve schools: An action guide for educators (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Mindsets: How to motivate students (and yourself).(2013). Educational Horizons, 91(2), 16-21. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ999522&site=ehost-live; http://pilambda.org/horizons/mindsets/

Brewer, C. B. (2012). Music and learning: Integrating music in the classroom. Retrieved 11/29, 2015, from http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/Arts%20in%20Education/brewer.htm

Van de Walle, John A., Karp, K. S., & Bay-Williams, J. M. (2013). Reasoning strategies for multiplication and division facts. In K. Villella Canton (Ed.), Elementary and middle school mathematics teaching developmentally (Eighth ed., pp. 181-182, 183, 184, 186) Pearson.

 

objectives-title

The course objectives for Action Research were…

  1. Review a variety of current educational literature and research, examining best practices in the classroom setting.
  2. Explore and apply the Action Research process to provide the foundation for continuous inquiry and an effective solution to an issue.
  3. Understand that Action Research is a distinctive approach to inquiry that is directly relevant to the classroom setting and that it provides the means for teachers to enhance their teaching and impact student learning.
  4. Reflect on the Action Research process by sharing identified research focus, rationale, collection and analysis of data, and inquiry next steps through a presentation to peers.

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At the beginning of this course, I had no idea what Action Research was. I obviously knew what research was, but didn’t know how the word “Action” changed the process. In the past, if I had something that I wanted to learn more about, I would research the topic and learn as much as I could about it. At the beginning of this course, I wondered how different Action Research was from the research that I had always done. Throughout the course, I have learned that the process of conducting Action Research includes:

  1. Observe students and record observations
  2. Analyze observations over time
  3. Choose a problem area
  4. Assess students at the beginning with three measures
  5. Research best practices
  6. Try out new research based strategies
  7. Assess with the same three measures at the end
  8. Make changes or adjustments to teaching practice as needed

This is a continuous, cyclical process that should be part of an accomplished teacher’s routine. Throughout this course, I learned how to observe my students and record my daily observations in a journal. I wrote about things that were bothering me that happened with my students or my instruction. By taking a look at these journal entries over time, I was able to see patterns of problem areas that arose. I chose the one that was bothering me the most and started off on an Action Research project. I found many excellent peer-reviewed journal articles about teaching students about having a growth mindset. As I read through the articles, I saw patterns in the research that showed how teaching about growth mindset can have a positive impact on students’ attitudes, behavior, and achievement. “Researchers have found that in dozens of studies that students with a growth mindset improve more in academics and other skills, and can even be less aggressive and more socially engaged” (Sparks, 2013).

growth-mindset-versus-fixed-mindset

My thoughts for this study were inspired by research on growth mindsets in the classroom. This research led me to wonder about the connections between students learning about their brains and having a growth mindset and students’ ability to persevere through difficult learning challenges and not give up easily or become distracted. I also wondered about the use of the word ‘yet’ at the end of the statement, “I can’t do it…YET!” In addition, I wondered about how students learning to accept failure as part of the learning process would affect their attitudes and motivation to persevere through difficult learning challenges.

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My plan was to investigate how to build a positive learning environment by teaching my students about the brain and having a growth vs. fixed mindset. My investigation had the potential to increase student motivation, time in learning, raise student achievement levels, and help students to understand that they are in charge of their learning and that challenges will grow their intelligence. “Teaching students a growth mindset results in increased motivation, better grades, and higher achievement test scores. Over a series of sessions, students were taught that their brains form new connections every time they learn, and that over time they can become smarter” (Dweck, 2007). This inquiry supports efforts to increase student performance levels and help students to meet or exceed academic standards. As a classroom teacher, this investigation can help me to develop new skills and strategies in order to help the typically lower performing students to feel better about themselves and know that they can make a difference in how smart they become. One of those strategies is teaching students about the power of ‘yet’. “The word ‘yet’ is valuable and should be used frequently in every classroom” (Dweck, 2010). Instead of students saying, “I can’t do it!” encourage them to say, “I can’t do it YET.” The hope is, that this will also help students to be more self-motivated and encouraging to their peers. It should also help to increase time on task and learning time throughout the period.

The following are excerpts from my weekly journal entries, which show my progression throughout the course:

Week 1: I see many students during my 4th grade math push-in who have low math self-esteem and truly believe that they can’t do the math. They put themselves down and cause disruptions or tune out so that they won’t even have to try. It seems like the 4th grade teacher and I are constantly putting out fires, trying to encourage students, keep them on task, and build their self-esteem. We are both wiped out each day at the end of the hour long period.

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Week 2: This week I noticed that many of my students seemed to get frustrated easily. During math group I had students who got frustrated when they didn’t pass a multiplication time test. Sometimes they feel like they will never be able to pass. However, I don’t think any of them practice at home in order to pass the tests. I think they just expect that they will either pass or not pass. They don’t seem to attribute it to the amount of effort that they put in. Students in math class will jump to a conclusion that the material is too difficult for them before they even try. Some of the students got frustrated when they got problems wrong during our math work time. They don’t seem to understand that mistakes are a part of learning.

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I think it will be very useful for me to conduct my action research project on empowering students to understand and be responsible for their own learning. I would like to research mindfulness and how it can help my students to have a more positive self concept, understand that mistakes are part of the learning process, and that the effort that they put into their own learning will create changes in their brains. I want them to be able to increase their frustration threshold and understand that they all have the power to learn and make a difference in their own lives and futures.

Week 4: I took my teaching partner out for dinner to discuss my plans for the project. Since we team teach for this class, I don’t feel like I can just try out anything that I want, without running it by her. Last week, I did give the three different assessments to my students as a baseline. One was multiple choice and the other was short answer and drawing a picture. I also used observation and had a check off sheet that I recorded data on while I was in the class. This was difficult because I was trying to observe, record data, and help kids with their math activities too. I’m sure I missed quite a few things while I was working individually with students. I put together graphs for the two surveys and have also been organizing my materials and conducting additional research in order to plan out my lessons to start on the program this Monday. I’m hoping that students will develop positive attitudes about mistakes and the learning process. I am also hoping that they will learn that taking on challenges and doing things that are hard for them will grow their brains. I’m hoping they will develop perseverance and more positive self-concepts.

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Week 5: I started teaching my 4th grade math students about the brain and how their brains learn new things this week. I think my kids are really starting to get it and I have seen small changes in their behavior and outlook on their abilities. We keep talking about how challenges grow the brain and that mistakes actually help the brain grow more than if you didn’t make any mistakes. This is a huge concept for the students that I work with. My plan for the next few lessons is about the importance of making mistakes and perseverance through those tough challenges. My students have been very receptive to the new learning and way of viewing themselves. I am hoping that it will actually have life-long benefits.

Week 7: I only saw my math group two times this week. I did do about 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning of those two math classes for my AR project. My students have been very interested in and receptive to learning about the brain and growth mindset. One student who gets really frustrated when she makes a mistake is starting to come around to understanding that mistakes are a part of learning and making them helps you grow your brain. Another student who usually has a bad attitude toward math, told another student that it was ok to make a mistake and to keep trying.

YouTube Growth Mindset Videos

Week 8: We watched additional YouTube videos about making mistakes, the brain, and growth vs. fixed mindset. We discussed famous people who have made mistakes or had other people tell them that they couldn’t do something, but they kept trying. Later that day one of my students came up to me and said she had seen a commercial for a new movie called “Eddie the Eagle” and that it was about a man who wanted to be a ski jumper in the Olympics, but everyone told him he couldn’t do it. She made the connection to what she was seeing in her own life. I have given my kids reminder sheets for them to put into their binders. One was a new way to look at failures…

F-First

A-Attempt

I-In

L-Learning

I also gave them a sheet about growth mindset vs. fixed mindset. I have noticed many of my students have chosen on their own to put these sheets on the outsides of their binder under the clear plastic. This way they can see it all the time. Yesterday I had the kids fill out a page with writing and drawing about what they have learned so far about the brain and growth mindset. I put these all together and printed a coloring book for each of them and gave it to them today. They were super excited!

Fixed vs Growth Mindset Poster

Through analyzing the data from my Action Research project I found a correlation between teaching my students about their brains and about having a growth mindset, with a decrease of problem behaviors and more positive academic self-concepts. I enjoyed conducting the Action Research project and have added the teaching of growth mindset to my strategy toolbox. My students seem much more positive about learning and now seem to have fewer frustration outbursts and melt-downs.

Negative Behaviors

Negative Behaviors pic

I plan to continue to do more informal Action Research projects on my own and with colleagues in order for us to improve academic achievement and/or to decrease disruptive student behaviors or attitudes. Action Research can be done anytime there is a problem or situation that needs to be solved.

As a leader, I would use Action Research to help myself and others target trouble areas and take time to work on immediate classroom needs instead of always doing blanket one-size-fits-all professional developments. Showing staff that you care about their specific issues, and that you will give them time to spend with colleagues doing an Action Research project based on those needs, will go a long way in establishing a trusting environment. This should also lead to increased student achievement and an increase in caring and supportive classrooms environments throughout the school. In addition, when teachers feel heard and get help from others with issues they are struggling with, they will most likely be happier with their jobs. School will be a more positive place to be and staff turnover should hopefully be decreased.

Resources

Pawlina, S., & Stanford, C. (2011). Preschoolers grow their brains: Shifting mindsets for greater resiliency and better problem solving. YC Young Children, 66(5), 30-35.

Dweck, C. S. (2007). Boosting Achievement with Messages that Motivate. Education Canada,    47(2), 6-10.

Dweck, C. S. (2010). Even Geniuses Work Hard. Educational Leadership, 68(1), 16-20.

Sparks, S. D. (2013). ‘Growth Mindset’ Gaining Traction As Ed. Strategy. Education Week,          33(3), 1-21.

Willis, J. (2007). Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success. Childhood Education, 83(5), 310-315.

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The course objectives for Survey of Instructional Strategies were…

Competence:

  1. Candidates will understand the role of a variety of engagement and instructional strategies as related to impact on student learning.
  2. Candidates will understand the components of effective lesson design using a variety of effective instructional strategies.
  3. Candidates will understand, design, and implement four lesson plans using a variety of instructional and engagement strategies including cooperative learning, advance organizers and schema activation, nonlinguistic representations and graphic organizers, summarizing, note making, setting objectives, providing feedback, recognition, homework, and the use of metaphors and analogies. Develop and demonstrate the ability to participate in a peer case study using: Collaborative inquiry designed to frame a problem, collect, analyze and interpret evidence, and determine next steps that will be implemented with students or staff as part of your leadership role.

Character:

Candidates will examine and reflect on personal professional use of instructional strategies in order to value current practices and make changes to professional practices when needed.

Service:

Students will discuss and participate in peer leadership activities to assist other school professionals in the application or instruction strategy best practices using the collaborative inquiry process.

Leadership:

  1. Students will be able to communicate instructional strategy information to others.
  2. Students will be able to read and understand the instructional strategies presented in the professional literature.

 

Reflection

At the beginning of this course, I was excited to learn about new teaching strategies that I could use with my students. I think we oftentimes get stuck in a rut using the same few teaching strategies and I wanted to learn how I could expand my repertoire. I was also interested in learning about which strategies had the highest effect size and when to use them most effectively. I have been a Safety Net teacher for over seven years now, and mostly teach small groups of struggling students. In addition to learning about strategies for small groups, I was interested in refreshing my knowledge on strategies for regular sized classrooms too.

During one of our first class sessions, we brainstormed a list of instructional strategies and also discussed how to become a visible learning teacher. The strategies that we brainstormed as a class include the following…

  • Success criteria
  • Students tracking progress
  • Think/pair/share
  • Feedback
  • Graphic organizers
  • Scaffolding/modeling
  • Process through writing/drawing
  • Making personal connections
  • Peer tutoring
  • Socratic seminars
  • Gallery walk
  • Jigsaw
  • Thumbs up/down/sideways

The three keys to becoming a visible learning teacher include (Hattie, 2012):keys

  1. Teachers evaluate their effects on students (know thy impact)
  2. Teachers see learning through the eyes of their students
  3. Students see teaching as the key to their ongoing learning (teaching is a tool for students)

Some of the strategies that we took a more in-depth look at included advance organizers, cooperative learning, nonlinguistic representation, and summarizing/note taking. One of my classmates and I chose to do our presentation on advance organizers. We learned that advance organizers help students to activate their prior knowledge and also help them tie that knowledge to the new learning. Advance organizers come at the start of a lesson and can be things such as stories, pictures, videos, audio, etc. The four types of advance organizers include expository, narrative, skimming, and graphic.

csi-cooperative

Cooperative learning is one of the most commonly used teaching strategies, but is also one of the most misused ones. In cooperative learning, all students need to be engaged, have a role to play, and be accountable for not only their own work, but the work of the whole group. Teachers can use formative and summative assessments to give feedback to their students on both their individual and group contributions. Giving students an opportunity to work with their peers, gives them a chance to build a deeper understanding of the material than if they just worked on it individually. Students also have better retention, motivation, and achievement when participating in a cooperative learning activity. The student tasks/roles need to be explicitly taught and practiced. Group size should be no more than 5 students. There are 3 types of cooperative learning (informal, formal, and base groups). Informal groups would be quick things like turn-and-talk, pair share, etc. Formal groups would last throughout an assignment, project or unit. Base groups are for the long term (whole year).

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Nonlinguistic representations include graphic organizers, physical models or manipulatives, mental pictures, pictures, illustrations, pictographs, and kinesthetic activities. In my opinion, these are the things that really make learning come alive for students. Using nonlinguistic representations can help students to link their previous learning with new learning. They help students to “process, organize, and retrieve information from memory” (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012). The six types of graphic organizers that are most commonly used in classrooms include: Descriptive, Time Sequence, Process/Cause-Effect, Episode, Generalization/Principle, and Concept. When helping students to create a mental picture, it is great if you can provide details related to all of their senses to help them to see, smell, taste, hear, and feel the imagery. I think it is very interesting that when students move around during a learning activity, their brains are building more neural connections and the learning is easier to remember (and kids love to move around).

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In both summarizing and note taking, students need to condense the information down to the most essential parts. They also help students to organize information and put it into a form that helps them to retain the information more effectively and efficiently. There are both linear (outlining) and nonlinear (webs or maps) forms of note taking. There is no specific note-taking format that is the best, but it is important to explicitly teach students how to take notes. One way to start this process with students is to give them a template with some of the information already entered. Then as they progress through the lesson or reading, they can fill in the rest of the information. Teaching students the rule-based summarizing process should help them to understand how to summarize more effectively. The rules include: 1.) Take out material that is not important to understanding. 2.) Take out words that repeat information. 3.) Replace a list of things with one word that describes them. 4.) Find a topic sentence or create one if it is missing. There are six different summary frames that can help students when they are writing their summaries. They include: narrative, topic-restriction-illustration, definition, argumentation, problem-solution, and conversion. These frames have questions that help guide students in their summarizing. Reciprocal teaching is a common strategy for teaching students how to summarize. It includes the four comprehension strategies of summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting. Students take on roles for each of the comprehension strategies. Important tips for note taking include: 1.) Give students teacher-prepared notes. 2.) Teach students a variety of note-taking formats. 3.) Provide opportunities for students to revise their notes and use them for review.

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Through reading the text, Visible Learning for Teachers, by John Hattie, I learned about the progression of the lesson from beginning to end. Setting learning targets and teaching them explicitly to students is critical at the beginning of a lesson. It is important to set objectives, give students success criteria so that they know how to meet the objectives, and also give them feedback to guide their progress. In order to teach by setting objectives and providing feedback, there are certain things that we should do. We should…

  • State the learning objectives to our students in terms that they can understand
  • Help our students to tie those objectives to learning they have already done and to future learning
  • Help our students to set their own learning objectives and give them feedback on those objectives
  • Check for student understanding of the objectives
  • Plan activities and lessons based on how well they will help students to meet the objectives
  • Provide students with success criteria or a rubric before an assessment
  • Give timely feedback throughout the unit of instruction
  • After giving feedback, give students a chance to improve their performance
  • Can use technology to help with feedback and documentation

One of the most important things to maximize student learning is co-planning lessons. Within our planning, we should take into account four things.

  1. Levels of performance (students’ prior achievement, developmental levels, confidence, & motivation)
  2. Learning intentions (targeted learning/achievement outcomes)
  3. Rate of progress (success criteria/progression)
  4. Co-planning and discussion (teachers plan and critique lessons together)

John Hattie states that a caring, positive classroom climate is one of the critical components needed to promote learning. The classroom should be a trusting environment where questions and mistakes are welcomed. Teachers should explicitly teach the learning targets and the success criteria so students know where they are going and what it looks like to get there. Students need to be taught how to work cooperatively and what the norms and rules of the class and groups are. Hattie states that the four criteria for “relational trust – interpersonal social exchanges that take place in a school community (Hattie, 2012)” are…respect, competence, personal regard, and integrity. We want to challenge students and to help them to be aware that through challenge and learning, there will be mistakes and questions. Both teachers and students should see mistakes as opportunities for learning.

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Classrooms should have more dialog than monologue happening throughout the day. Currently, in most classrooms, the teacher does most of the talking. Hattie suggests that we incorporate more teacher-student and student-student discussions into our lessons. Teachers should be listening more than they are talking. We can learn a great deal by listening to our students. We can determine what they already know, any misconceptions they might have, and gaps in their learning.

Social relationships are very important for students to learn effectively. For example, when students move to a new school, Hattie says, based on current research, that “…the single greatest predictor of subsequent success is whether the student makes a friend in the first month (Hattie, 2012).” Peers can be tutors, give feedback, and provide friendship. Cooperative learning is a great strategy to build on the fact that peers and working with other students is so important to the learning process.

Hattie suggests that we see learning through the eyes of our students. We should be more focused on the learning, rather than just the teaching. Once we understand how our students learn and what stages they are in, we can more effectively make teaching decisions. We should teach our students how to use strategies within our content areas, give them time to practice those strategies, and then we can assess how effective those strategies were in promoting learning.

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Hattie believes that learning should start with a “backward design” so that we start with the learning objectives and success criteria in mind and then come up with the strategies and activities we feel will best move our students forward in their learning to meet the objectives. There are four stages of motivation…

  1. See a gap
  2. Goal-setting
  3. Strategies
  4. Close the gap

Many students get stuck at stage one. We as teachers, need to pinpoint which stage of motivation that a student is in and help them to move from that stage to the next.

feedback

Feedback has one of the highest effect sizes on student learning and is therefore critical in the teaching and learning process. Feedback helps students to know where they are and what they need to do to meet the lesson objectives and success criteria. Feedback can be directed toward processes, clear up misconceptions, and motivate students. There are four levels of feedback (task, process, self-regulation, and self) and there are three critical questions to keep in mind when giving feedback. 1.) Where am I going? 2.) How am I going there? 3.) Where to next? The question of where I am going relates to the success criteria and lesson objectives and making them clear to students. Students can monitor and assess their progress toward the learning targets daily to see their progress. There are also three phases of learning which include: novice, proficient, and competent and students move through these phases as they learn and solidify new learning. Errors are an important part of learning and should be welcomed in the classroom. We need to explicitly teach how errors help us to learn even more. When I taught about having a growth mindset to my 4th grade math students, we learned that making mistakes creates more connections in your brain and you actually learn more than when you get all the answers correct. When my students get frustrated when they make a mistake, I remind them of the learning we did on having a growth mindset and how mistakes “grow their brains”.

Prompts are great tool for eliciting feedback. Prompts can be organizational, elaborative, and can monitor progress. Page 129 gives some great question prompts to use with students (Hattie, 2012). Teaching students to use prompts while giving peer feedback helps to make the feedback more effective. There is a great rubric on page 133 that guides students in giving peer feedback (Hattie, 2012). Feedback needs to be specific, focused, and clear. As teachers contemplate their effect on the learning of their students, they should look at lessons through the eyes of their students.

The additional sources that I read related to feedback were: The 2 Es, (Kroog, King Hess, & Araceli Ruiz-Primo, 2016) and Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning (Chappuis, 2009). Formal formative assessments are defined as being planned in advance and should help to move students forward in their learning by providing feedback or changes of instruction. We need to have students show us what they are thinking in order to understand where they are and where they need to go next. Our feedback comments can be both descriptive and prescriptive. A prescriptive comment helps students to understand how to improve. A descriptive comment lets students know why something was right or wrong. It is not effective to put a score on a paper if you want to provide comments. Students are more interested in the score and will not get much out of the comments. Plus, it is too late to make any changes based on the feedback when a grade was already assigned. Feedback should be actionable. An effective way to give feedback to younger students is the Stars and Stairs method. The star represents what the student is doing well and the stair represents steps the student needs to take to improve. For older students we can use the “That’s Good” and the “Now This” feedback frame.

Throughout this class we also practiced our new strategy learning by writing up lesson plans, teaching them to our students, and reflecting on how they went. We also conducted extended research related to some of these different teaching strategies.

I chose to focus on CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.4 (Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text) with both my cooperative learning and advance organizer lessons. One of them was with a higher level narrative text and the other was with a grade level information/expository text. I teach Safety Net and work with students who are below standard in reading. These students oftentimes don’t have a repertoire of effective reading strategies. Through my outside research I found the importance of teaching these strategies explicitly. “Despite the clear and longstanding connection between meaning vocabulary and reading comprehension, programs designed to teach vocabulary have often had surprisingly little impact on overall reading ability. One possible reason for this small effect is that teaching methods may not make this vocabulary-to-comprehension connection explicit for the students” (Greenwood & Flanigan, 2007). “This substantial research review underscored the need for strategy instruction to be explicit, especially for poor comprehenders” (Bishop, Reyes, & Pflaum, 2006). This same article stated that students should be taught what they termed as “Global Reading”, which is comprised of activating prior knowledge, making text predictions, skimming text, using context clues, and using text structure and textual features (Bishop, Reyes, & Pflaum, 2006). Based on these findings, I incorporated activating prior knowledge through the use of advance organizers such as skimming the book and its different text features and talking and drawing about what they already knew about the topic. I also gave them a graphic organizer to help them organize and track their learning.

I teach Safety Net, so I oftentimes forget about using cooperative learning strategies because we are already in a small group. Throughout this course, however, I have tried using more partner groupings and structured cooperative learning activities and have had great success with them. I have noticed that my students have been more engaged and have enjoyed working with a partner. They have helped each other and shared their ideas. Through my formative assessments and observations, I noticed that the partner groups were picking out the same challenging words that I predicted that they would in the text. With their partner’s help, they looked at context clues within the text to help them figure out what the words meant. They filled out their findings on a graphic organizer that I provided for them. They were able to figure out what all the words meant. The students who I am working with are 4th graders who are below standard in their reading. I am exposing them to complex text by working with a 5.4 reading level book. They are testing out the strategy of using context clues to decipher the meanings of challenging words within a challenging text and are succeeding and enjoying it! I ended up modeling the strategy for a bit longer than I had anticipated. We went through finding three different words/phrases before I sent them off to work in their partner groups. Sometimes it can be challenging to know exactly how much time I will need to spend on a particular part of the lesson. Through my observation of my students, I noticed that they needed more modeling time than I had originally planned.

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I taught two lessons to my fourth grade before-school reading group using nonlinguistic representations. I am helping my students to access higher level text by reading aloud “The Trolls” by Polly Horvath. This book is at a 5.4 reading level and has complex text, vocabulary, and phrases. My lesson objective for both lessons was to have my students be able to paraphrase sections of the text that were read aloud to them. During one of the lessons, I had my students draw quick sketches of what they were hearing in the text to help them to visualize and make the story more concrete for them. During the second lesson, I had them do the same thing, but with Play Dough. After I finished reading aloud, I had each student share their drawings or sculpture and describe what was happening in the story. In this way, they were able to use nonlinguistic tools to help them to visualize and then verbalize what they had heard. At the conclusion of each of the lessons, I asked students the following questions: What is the strategy we learned today to help us follow what happens in the text? How was this similar to what you did yesterday with drawing as I read aloud? What do you have to do when you are listening to a story and working with Play Dough or drawing? What does your mind do? What if we didn’t have the Play Dough or the drawing paper to work with and you were listening to a story or reading? What would you do? Both lessons went well and students were able to paraphrase the part of the story that I read aloud by using their Play Dough sculptures and their drawings. They were very engaged in the lesson and were also able to explain that we create pictures in our heads when we listen or read a text and that it is a good way to help us remember and focus on what we are reading. The drawing and sculpting helped students in a concrete way to see what images that their minds were creating while listening.

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While reflecting on our collaborative inquiry project, My fourth grade team and I felt that the evidence showed us that we were correct in choosing the inquiry question that we had, as many of our students were struggling in this area. After we implemented the strategies, we saw a marked improvement in our students’ multiplication skills. We made the assumptions that our students were struggling with their multi-digit multiplication problems due to a lack of basic fact knowledge. We also made the assumption that using a variety of strategies, such as scaffolding, flip charts, songs, flash cards, IXL, and having students track their progress would help them with these basic facts and with their multi-digit multiplication. One of the strengths of the strategies that we used was that we saw large gains in assessment scores among our students. One of the weaknesses of the strategies that we used, based on the data and the fact that some of our students didn’t master their facts and multi-digit multiplication, was that we didn’t have enough time in the learning cycle. If we had had more time, we feel that we could have gotten more of our students to the mastery level.

Our collaborative inquiry team felt that the strategies that we used to help our students to build their multiplication skills were effective. Next time however, we feel that we need to spread the process throughout the school year to work on building these skills over time, so that we aren’t rushed for results. In that way, we can focus more on helping our students to have a stronger foundation of their basic facts and more gradually build up to multi-digit problems. We also feel that spending more time on each of these strategies would definitely benefit our students.

It was very helpful to work together as a team to address our students’ needs as a whole grade level. We were able to share our problems and brainstorm solutions and strategies together. We each tried out the strategies and came back to share our progress and to discuss how it was going and look at student assessment data. We then revised our teaching to address any issues that we hadn’t anticipated at the start. We were able to come up with more strategies and ideas when working with the group, as opposed to thinking just on our own. We were also able to celebrate our successes together and determine what attributed to the student achievement so that we could continue with those teaching methods and strategies in the future. Collaborative Inquiry is a very effective way to team together to increase student learning and achievement.

References

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. London: Routledge.

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works –     research-based strategies for increasing student achievement (2nd ed.). Denver, CO:           McRel.

Chappuis, J. (2009). Seven strategies of assessment for learning. Upper Saddle River, NJ:            Pearson Education.

Kroog, H., King Hess, K., & Araceli Ruiz-Primo, M. (2016). The 2 Es Implement Effective and Efficient approaches to formal formative assessment that will save time and boost student   achievement. Educational Leadership, April, 22-25.

Bishop, P. A., Reyes, C., & Pflaum, S. W. (2006). Teaching tips: Read smarter, not harder–         global reading comprehension strategies. Reading Teacher, 60(1), 66-69. Retrieved from             http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&Au            thType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ749433&site=ehost-live;         http://dx.doi.org/10.1598/RT.60.1.7

Greenwood, S. C., & Flanigan, K. (2007). Overlapping vocabulary and comprehension: Context clues complement semantic gradients. Reading Teacher, 61(3), 249-254. Retrieved from             http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&Au            thType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ778606&site=ehost-live;         http://dx.doi.org/10.1598/RT.61.3.5

 

 

Teacher Leadership Standard 9: Evaluate and Use Effective Curriculum Design

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Course Objective:

Teacher Leadership Standard 9:   Evaluate and use effective curriculum design

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At the beginning of this course, I was very familiar with lesson planning, but not as familiar with putting together a unit plan or a year-long pacing guide. Throughout the course I have learned a great deal about both of these areas. “Curriculum development is defined as planned, a purposeful, progressive, and systematic process to create positive improvements in the educational system. Every time there are changes or developments happening around the world, the school curricula are affected.”  (Alvior, 2014)  I believe that this quote is very applicable to curriculum development. Throughout our teaching careers, we have seen curriculum adapt and change to fit the needs of society. Standards are adjusted to meet the demands of the ever changing work environment. As we realize what new skills are needed and which previous skills are not currently as important, we adjust our curriculum to meet those needs. Curriculum is constantly changing. For example, when I first started teaching in 1989, computers were just starting to become available. Most people didn’t even have one in their homes yet. We didn’t have standards to teach computer skills or use computers within our curriculum. However, as the years have progressed, we have seen that computers have become interwoven into our society and are a component of almost every job today. Therefore, we had to adjust our curriculum to meet the needs of what our students would be expected to know and be able to do in the workforce. We now have technology standards and we teach and use technology in our instruction. Curriculum development is a continuous process rather than a product.

In the past, I have designed curriculum for my own classroom and have worked with my data teams to design common formative assessments and have either adjusted district curriculum or have created new curriculum to help us to teach to targeted standards more effectively based on the students we had at the time. I have also been involved in a small group of Safety Net math teachers who have been working for the past couple of years on creating success criteria for other Safety Net teachers to use within their math instruction. In addition, when I was on leave to raise my three children, I developed curriculum for a series of enrichment classes that have run for the past 15 years at local elementary schools and community centers (math, reading, writing, and chess). I worked with others to create and revise the curriculum to meet the needs of our students. I have not been on a curriculum development team for our district, however. I have not been on a curriculum adoption committee either. Within the Lake Washington School District, most of the curriculum is purchased, so I think it would be very enlightening to be on a curriculum adoption committee in order to better understand the process of looking for the most comprehensive and effective curriculum that will help our students to reach or exceed our priority standards.

I’m glad that I took this class about curriculum development. As Beth Handler states in her article, Teacher as Curriculum Leader: A Consideration of the Appropriateness of that Role Assignment to Classroom-Based Practitioners (2010), many teachers are unprepared to take on the role of curriculum developer. She states that research shows that having teachers develop curriculum does not seem to improve student outcomes (Handler, 2010). Teachers need to have more training in both teacher education programs and in-service training if they are to be asked to step into the role of curriculum developer. As I have seen in this class, it is quite an extensive and somewhat complicated process.

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When designing curriculum, units, and lessons, we must take into account the cultural makeup of our student population. The article, “Inviting All Students to Learn” by Hilary Dack and Carol Ann Tomlinson (2015) was very informative on taking into account both cultural and personal differences when planning and teaching lessons. The authors make a point to have teachers learn as much about the different cultures of their students. They suggest researching, talking with others from that culture, and finding out about their cultures through their students themselves. They provide four suggestions to help educators to “become better attuned to cultural variance and help all their students build positive, productive lives” (Dack & Tomlinson, 2015).

  1. Recognize and appreciate cultural variance.
  2. Learn about and look for culturally influenced learning patterns.
  3. Look beyond cultural patterns to see individuals.
  4. Plan inviting curriculum and instruction.

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They also present the idea of cultural/behavioral continuums in order to understand the ways that students prefer to learn.

  • Individualistic————Collectivist
  • Needs to observe————-Needs to test ideas
  • Competitive—————Collaborative
  • Needs external structures—————Creates own structures
  • Challenging of authority—————Respectful of authority
  • Conformity————-Creativity
  • Reserved————–Expressive
  • Fixed sense of time—————Flexible sense of time
  • Information-driven————-Feeling-driven

kids_readingAnother article that I read during this course was Enhancing Core Reading Programs with Culturally Responsive Practices, by Katie Toppel (2015). As I was using the district adopted reading intervention curriculum for my unit planning, this article was especially interesting to me. The author describes being a culturally responsive teacher as “demonstrating care for students, incorporating opportunities for student collaboration, and strategically using instructional techniques to elicit better engagement” (Toppel, 2015). She suggests getting to know students and their families starting from the beginning of the year. One idea that she uses is a personal alphabet. She sends a template home with each student at the beginning of the year and has the family fill out a word or phrase for each letter of the alphabet to help to describe their child’s family, culture, interests, strengths, favorite things, etc. I think this would be a great way to get to know my students better. We could share student lists in class and then I could refer back to them throughout the year to help me differentiate my instruction and make it more culturally and personally relevant for my students. “Partner sharing, often referred to as ‘turn and talk’ is a great way to allow for variations in how students from different cultural groups prefer to communicate” (Toppel, 2015). I am incorporating partner work and turn and talk throughout my unit to help students to learn from each other, have a chance to share their own ideas, and to have active participation among all my students.  “Some students, particularly students who are learning English, will benefit from language supports such as sentence starters or sentence frames” (Toppel, 2015). In the differentiated section of my unit plan, I scaffolded my lessons by using sentence stems for students who are struggling. One additional way that I will be ‘inviting my students to learn” is through the engaging scenario, real world project toward the end of my unit. Students will be working with a  partner to solve a real world problem and can use their creativity in a variety of ways.

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I started this course by coming up with a preliminary unit map, using sticky notes within a matrix. This was the basis for the unit plan that I would be working on throughout the remainder of the course. As the course progressed, I learned about the sections of the unit plan and worked on each one until they came together to form a cohesive and comprehensive unit. As a result of my new learning, I will be able to look at district curriculum units with a new appreciation and understanding of the parts and what into creating the unit. I will feel much more confident being on a curriculum development or adoption team in the future. I will also be able to support my colleagues in understanding and writing unit and lesson plans. The following is the unit that I created throughout this course.

Unit Plan

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Unit Plan scan 2

Unit Plan scan 3

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Unit Plan scan 9

References:

Alvior, M. G. (2014, December 13). The meaning and importance of curriculum development.      Retrieved August 16, 2016, from Curriculum and Instruction, http://simplyeducate.me/2014/12/13/the-meaning-and-importance-of-curriculum-development/

Handler, B. (2010). Teacher as curriculum leader: a consideration of the appropriateness of that role assignment to classroom-based practitioners. International Journal of Teacher       Leadership, 3(3), 32-42. http://www.csupomona.edu/ijtl

Dack, H., & Tomlinson, C. A. (2015, March). Inviting all students to learn. Educational    Leadership, 11-15.

Toppel, K. (2015). Enhancing core reading programs with culturally responsive practices. Reading Teacher, 68(7), 552-559.

Ainsworth, L. (2010). Rigorous curriculum design: how to create curricular units of study that align standards, instruction, and assessment. United States: Lead + Learn Press.

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher Leadership Standard 11: Utilize formative and summative assessment in a standards based environment

assessment

Teacher Leadership Program Standard #11: Utilize formative and summative assessment in a standards-based environment.

According to the course syllabus, the following are the course description, goals, and guiding questions…

Course Description

The aim of this course is to develop attitudes and skills necessary to provide sound classroom assessment experiences for learning that yields accurate, usable information for students, teachers, and parents, while also assisting teachers as they develop the skills and judgment needed to integrate assessment into instruction.

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Goals

The primary goals of this course are to 1) to develop a sense of assessment vocabulary and conversation, and 2) to define and implement a strong understanding of sound classroom assessment practice and experiences within an authentic classroom context.

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Guiding Questions

Three guiding questions that help us move us move in the direction of the goals stated above are 1) What do I want my students to learn (in terms of standards) 2) Where are my students currently in their progression of learning? And 3) How can I help support their learning?

Assessment for Learning:

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Five Key Strategies

  1. Share learning expectations
  2. Elicit evidence
  3. Feedback
  4. Self-assessment
  5. Peer-Assessment

Formative Assessments:

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At the beginning of the course, I felt that formative assessments were assessments done throughout the lesson or unit to determine student understanding. They could be quick, such as thumbs up/down/or sideways or exit tickets. They could also be observations made by the teacher as students progress through the lesson/unit. They might be a mid-unit assessment to see what students know and what they still need to more clearly understand. I use formative assessments to monitor and adjust my teaching. Throughout the lesson, I have used quick checks and have observed students to check for understanding and misconceptions. As I do these quick formative assessments, I try to clear up any misconceptions that students may have and I also re-teach or move on, based on how well my students seem to be understanding. I stated that I wanted to learn more about different types of formative assessments, how to design them to give the best data in the shortest amount of time, and how to better analyze and use them to adjust my teaching.

Sharing Learning Targets with Students:

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In the past, I have shared learning expectations by going over a rubric and sharing success criteria with my students to show them what we would be learning and the steps we would be taking to reach our learning goals. Other times, I have started with a question such as, “Why do you think it’s important to learn about fractions?” This gets a discussion going and helps students come to understand the real world importance of the learning that will be taking place. They have more buy-in when they have discussed the purpose of the learning. We revisit those reasons throughout the unit as a reminder of why we are doing what we are doing and that our learning target relates to those reasons. I’m was excited to learn a variety of new ways to introduce and teach learning targets to my students through this course. I also wanted to learn ways that I can hook my students into the lesson and help them to understand the learning targets, but not take up too much time since I only have my small groups for about 30 minutes a day.

Eliciting Evidence of Student Learning:

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In the past, I have used multiple ways to elicit evidence of student learning. I often use individual white boards and either have students answer questions and hold up their white boards or I observe them as they are doing the work on their boards. Using the game of Jeopardy (teacher created questions based on the unit) is a fun way to engage students in the material and also to assess whether they are understanding it or not. I break the class or group into two teams. Each student has a mini white board and has to solve or answer the question. Then they share their answers with their team and come to a consensus about the correct answer. The other team has to do the same thing in order to check their answer against the opposing team’s answer. http://exchange.smarttech.com/search.html?q=%22jeopardy%22 (Links to an external site.). I also love to use hands-on artistic ways for students to show what they know. I have students draw a picture or make a play dough sculpture to demonstrate what they have learned or read. I then have students share out with the group using their artwork as a prop. Sometimes I will have them act out what we have learned or what they have read. Since I mainly teach small groups of students, we are constantly having group discussions in which I can observe how students respond and I adjust my teaching as necessary based on their responses. I’ve had students answer a question or put down their ideas on sticky notes and post them on a chart. I have used the thumbs up/down/sideways to find out if students feel like they are “getting it”. I really like the idea of the question cards (A, B, C, D) for students to hold up as they answer a question. I have never used this technique, but I’m definitely going to in the future. Through this course, I wanted to learn about additional ways to check for understanding with my students that are quick, informative, and interesting to my students.

Feedback:

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I totally agree with Wiliam’s (2011) quote that, “Feedback should cause thinking.” Feedback should cause students to think more closely about the work that they have done and what incremental steps they can take to work toward achieving or surpassing the standards. According to research, feedback in written comments is best delivered without a grade attached. This is due to the fact that once a student sees his/her grade, they are not as likely to carefully read the comments. It also seems more final if a grade is attached. This most often informs the student that no additional work can be done to improve the grade. Therefore, why bother looking at the comments very closely. Feedback should be given in time for students to make adjustments to their work so that they get closer to or achieve the goals of the lesson/unit. If they have time to rework their assignments, they are more likely to take the comments to heart. Feedback can come in so many different forms. Comments can be written or oral and can come from the teacher or from peers. Feedback is most effective when directly aligned to the success criteria or rubric for the assignment. It’s also great if students can reflect and give themselves feedback on how hard they worked or how closely their work aligns to the success criteria or rubric.

This year, I plan to give more feedback throughout the units that I teach, basing it on the success criteria and the standards we are working toward. I would like to try to get away from putting grades on too many assignments, so that my students will focus more on the comments and how they can improve their work. I will make sure that they have time to make adjustments as we go along. I would also like to have my students give more structured peer feedback using rubrics or checklists. In addition, I plan to have my students reflect more on their own work and give themselves feedback based on lesson criteria. I would also like to have my students track their progress more, so that they know how close they are to meeting the standards and what they need to do to get there. I hoped to answer the following question through this course. How do you know how much feedback to give so that students have the information that they need to reach standard, yet do not get overwhelmed in the process?

Peer/Self Evaluation:

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Two videos that I watched from Success at the Core were very well aligned with Wiliam’s suggestions for peer/self-assessment. In the first video (Channel, 2014) https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/peer-conferencing, the teacher had the students peer edit each other’s writing. The steps that he had students go through were…

    • Step 1 – Praise (with an “I like” and specific details from the text)
    • Step 2 – Suggest elaboration
    • Step 3 – Ask questions
    • Step 4 – Make an Action Plan

This teacher had students use a graphic organizer to guide them through the peer editing process. He also made sure that students used specific examples from the text to point out what they liked, areas for elaboration, and pose questions about the text. Each student also made an action plan on what they were planning to do next after the editing process. Peer conferences are an excellent way to conduct formative assessments.

The second video was based on guided groups for formative assessments (Channel, 2014) https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/guided-groups-formative-assessment. After a lesson, this teacher had students annotate their own papers with the following letters…

    • A – Stay for additional help
    • B – Have clarifying questions
    • C – Ready for independent-work

Right away, the teacher was able to see who still needed help or didn’t understand the assignment or concepts. She was able to help those students while the ones who were ready to move on, went back to their desks to work. As students who needed the extra help started to understand, she had them change their letter to a “C” and leave the group to work individually.

Wiliam (2011) advocates for both peer and individual assessments, saying that often-times students learn more working with a peer than with the teacher. Wiliam (2011) says that “The purpose of peer assessment should be simply, and purely, to help the individual being assessed improve his work.” That’s what the students in the first video were doing. They were systematically working through a graphic organizer to help their peers to fine-tune their writing. Wiliam (2011) also states that “…activating students as owners of their own learning can produce extraordinary improvements in their achievement.” In both videos, the students were definitely actively participating in their own learning and the learning of their peers. Both of these videos were for writing lessons. I am wondering how they would have worked for other subject areas.

Integrating Assessment into Instruction:

As a teacher leader, I plan to use my new knowledge about the importance of formative assessments to help support my colleagues in building awareness, skills and capabilities in this area. For one, my grade level Data Team would be a perfect place to start. As I work with my team on effective strategies for helping our students to reach their learning targets, I can introduce some of the research and techniques that I have found on formative assessments. We can add these to our strategy list and use them with our classes and groups. In addition, I can talk with my principal about the possibility of presenting some formative assessment strategies at a staff meeting and letting teachers know that I can be a resource for them. I can also add a page to our school Haiku site with information and strategies for formative assessments. This way, teachers can access the site and get information anytime they need to.

Learning Progression:

“A learning progression is a carefully sequenced set of building blocks that students must master en route to mastering a more distant curricular aim. These building blocks consist of sub-skills and bodies of enabling knowledge. More and more education authorities are now identifying learning progressions as a potent way to help teachers plan and monitor their instruction and, as a result, enhance their students’ learning” (Popham, 2016). Throughout this course, I worked on putting together a learning progression for a 4th grade reading intervention group. The orange circle is the main objective. The blue boxes are the building block skills. The green boxes include the types of formative assessments included in the progression. The tan colored boxes include the specific questions/hinge questions for the formative assessments.

Learning Progression

 

Assessment into Action Project – Feedback:

Rationale Statement

Providing high quality, effective feedback is extremely important for improving student learning. According to Hattie, the average effect size of classroom feedback is .79, which is nearly double the .4 average benchmark. Therefore, Hattie places “feedback in the top 10 influences on achievement” (Sutton, Hornsey, & Douglas, 2012).  I chose this topic because it was an area in which I wanted to learn more about and improve in my teaching. While reading Embedded Formative Assessment, I was shocked when Wiliam shared the table on page 115 about the possible responses to feedback (2011). I was amazed that feedback can go so terribly wrong in so many instances. Out of the eight possible response scenarios, only two of them were positive (Wiliam, 2011). Giving quality feedback is essential in helping to move students forward in their learning. In order to have higher student achievement, I wanted to research best practices in giving feedback, both in the “what” and in the “how”. I have studied growth mindset and I have seen how gearing feedback to this type of mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset can have great benefits.

Research Questions

Through my research on feedback, I hoped to answer the following key questions. How does feedback support learning? What makes feedback effective? What are some useful strategies to convey this feedback to my students to move learning forward? Additional questions that I was hoping to answer also included the following.  How do I give focused, specific feedback that directly relates to the learning target? How can I best build a growth mindset among my students? How do I gear feedback to build on that growth mindset? How much is too much feedback? How can I best structure peer and personal feedback? How can I best have my students follow through on the feedback that they have received or have given themselves? How do I structure time for feedback and student revisions within a curricular unit/lesson?

Action Plan

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Within my Safety Net reading and math classes this coming year, I plan to implement many of the new things that I have learned about giving effective feedback to my students in order to help them to move their learning forward. As Hattie states, “When students understand their goals and what success at those goals look like, then the feedback is more powerful (Sutton, Hornsey, & Douglas, 2012).” I plan to help my students to understand and interact with the learning targets for each lesson. Sharing success criteria, rubrics, and exemplars will help my students to see where they are headed and how to get there. Through the use of continuous  formative assessments, my students will know where they are on the path to their goals and I will be able to adjust my teaching to meet the needs of my students. My students will be tracking their own learning progress and making individual goals that will scaffold them toward achieving the learning targets. I will keep parents in the loop as well, by giving them information about our learning targets, resources that they can use to support their child, and feedback about where their child is and what the next steps are in helping them to reach their goals. Through the use of teacher, peer, and student feedback, students will be receiving guidance to help them along on their learning journey and help them to become more self-reflective about their own learning and progress. I plan to give my students time in class to discuss their work with me, go over the comments on assignments (either on their own or with a peer) and then have time to process that information, create an action plan for moving forward, and make the necessary revisions or changes. “Don’t provide students with feedback unless you allow time, in class, to work on using the feedback to improve their work (Wiliam, 2011).” I plan to give more comments on assignments or tasks without assigning grades at the same time. “As soon as students get a grade, the learning stops. If grades stop learning, students should be given them as infrequently as possible (Wiliam, 2011).” I really liked the example that Wiliam gives on page 130. A teacher wrote comments on strips of paper instead of on students’ assignments. Then she gave small groups of students their papers back and the separate comment strips. The groups had to determine which comments went with which assignments. This seems like a very powerful way to help students to really analyze and internalize the feedback not only for their own work, but for the work of their peers, in a non-threatening way (Wiliam, 2011).

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“Learning in classrooms will be considerably enhanced if students embrace this idea of ‘It’s up to me, and I can do something about it.’ (Wiliam, 2011).” I plan to build a positive learning environment by teaching my students about the brain and having a growth vs. fixed mindset. I plan to praise students for their effort and not their intelligence. I also plan to praise students for their hard work and not how fast they get through an assignment. I will continually reiterate the fact that challenges and mistakes are opportunities to grow our brains. I want my students to understand that intelligence is not fixed at birth and that through developing a growth mindset, they can take on challenges and grow their ‘smarts’ (Dweck, 2007). I will use a student survey to help me determine where my students fall on the mindset continuum. After teaching about the brain and growth mindset, I plan to reassess using the same measure. In order for my students to view challenges and mistakes in a positive light, I plan to share stories of famous people and the failures that they went through on their paths to success. I also plan to teach them that the word FAIL has a new meaning…F-irst, A-ttempt, I-n, L-earning. I want them to see failures and challenges as part of the learning process and necessary in order to grow their brains. I also plan to encourage my students to understand the power of the word ‘yet’. Whenever they say that they can’t do something, we will add the word ‘yet’ to the end of that statement, so that they can see that learning is a work in progress and not an end product (Dweck, 2010). I plan to use children’s literature, videos, discussions, partner sharing, drawing, physical demonstrations and diagrams, etc. to help my students internalize information about how their brains function and about the benefits of having a growth mindset. “Therefore, what we need to do is ensure that the feedback we give students supports a view of ability as incremental rather than fixed: by working, you’re getting smarter (Wiliam, 2011).”

One question that I had about feedback was – How much feedback is too much? According to Susan Brookhart (2008), the amount of feedback given to a student is very individualized. Instead of trying to “fix” every error a student makes, I plan to take that student’s background knowledge, motivation, and personality into account when determining the “right” amount of feedback to give them. Brookhart (2008) suggests that we give students enough feedback so that they know what to do next, but not so much that the work has already been done for them. She also suggests giving feedback on two to three main points, gearing feedback toward the learning targets, and sharing at least as many strengths as weaknesses. I plan to use the “Two Stars and a Wish” technique, which was referenced in many of the research sources that I found, with my students this year. This strategy should work well for peer and self-reflection. In Wiliams (2011), he gives an additional variation to this technique. He suggests having students put the comments on sticky notes and after students have responded to the comments, the teacher collects them and goes over them with the class, analyzing how helpful the comments were. If I use this strategy, I will be helping my students to understand how to be more reflective and how to write comments that will help to move learning forward. I also like the feedback frame, “I noticed…, I wondered…”  shared in the following video on the Teaching Channel. https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/student-to-student-feedback-nea. Using a feedback frame such as this one, would help to narrow the focus so as to not overwhelm the student with too much feedback.

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Through my research, I found some interesting ways to use technology to enhance the giving of feedback. Many of these, didn’t seem to fit my teaching situation, but I plan to try to incorporate some form of technology into my feedback repertoire.  A couple of tools that I found to help with giving both written and oral feedback are GoogleDocs (voice and written comment features) and Evernote (audio notes). Using podcasts is another way to use technology tools to provide feedback. Here is a link to a video on how to give feedback using podcasts  https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/student-feedback-through-technology. Jing is another great tech tool to use to create video feedback https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html?gclid=COX8taCDqc4CFZBhfgodt8gN5w. It also introduces resources on giving effective feedback. Kahoot is a site to create online quizzes that students and teachers can use to get immediate feedback on student responses. Here’s how to create a Kahoot online quiz … http://mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2014-12-13T05:00:00-06:00&max-results=5. Another interesting idea that I might like to try this year is having my students create eportfolios to track their progress throughout the year. Here are a couple of sites related to eportfolios… https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=31&category=Toolbox&article=Which-e-portfolio-tool-is-best-for-you and https://www.digication.com/.

As a teacher leader, I plan to use my new knowledge about effective feedback to help support my colleagues in building awareness, skills and capabilities in this area. For one, I think my grade level Data Team would be a perfect place to start. As I work with my team on effective strategies for helping our students to reach our learning targets, I can introduce some of the research and techniques that I have found on feedback. We can add these to our strategy list and use them with our classes and groups. In addition, I can talk with my principal about the possibility of presenting some feedback strategies to our staff at a meeting or on a LEAP day and letting them know that I can be a resource for them to troubleshoot their feedback practices or to offer new research based ideas for them to try out. I can also add a page to our school Haiku site with information and strategies for giving effective feedback. This way, teachers can access the site and get information anytime they need to.

Reflection

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As I reflect on the research that I have conducted on effective feedback, I realize how critical it is to give timely, specific feedback that is related to the learning targets. This feedback should “provide a recipe for future action (Wiliam, 2011).” I need to give my students time in class to reflect on that feedback and use it to move their learning forward. I need to give just the right amount of feedback so as not to overwhelm my students. I need to focus on a few areas within my feedback and not try to fix everything. Using feedback frames such as, Two Stars and a Wish, helps to focus the feedback. I need to look at how I give my feedback through the eyes of my students. In order for them to reflect, internalize, and use this feedback, I need to provide opportunities for them to reflect on their peers’ work as well as on their own. In order for them to become more self-regulated in their learning, we need to practice giving feedback often and look at how helpful that feedback can be. A growth mindset should be taught and encouraged to create a positive classroom learning climate. In order for students to be able to accept feedback, they should see errors as important to the learning process. It’s also important to use many formative assessments without grades attached. Giving written, oral, or technology based feedback without grades is more useful in guiding students to make needed adjustments to their work. Feedback can so often go wrong. It’s important to be intentional and use research based practices and strategies when giving feedback to our students in order to move their learning forward and to build on their motivation to continue learning.

References:

Popham, J. W. (2016). Educational leadership: The prepared graduate: The lowdown on learning progressions. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr07/vol64/num07/The-Lowdown-on-Learning-Progressions.aspx

Pawlina, S., & Stanford, C. (2011). Preschoolers grow their brains: shifting mindsets for greater resiliency and better problem solving. YC Young Children, 66(5), 30-35.

Dweck, C. S. (2007). Boosting achievement with messages that motivate. Education         Canada, 47(2), 6-10.

Dweck, C. S. (2010). Even geniuses work hard. Educational Leadership, 68(1), 16-20.

Konold, K. E., Miller, S. P., & Konold, K. B. (2004). Using teacher feedback to enhance student learning. Teaching Exceptional Children, 36(6), 64-69.

Nicol, D. J., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self‐regulated         learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies In Higher          Education, 31(2), 199-218.

Brookhart, S. M. (2008). How to give effective feedback to your students. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Australia: Hawker Brownlow Education Pty.

Sutton, R. M., Hornsey, M. J., & Douglas, K. M. (Eds.). (2012). Feedback: The communication of praise, criticism, and advice. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Shute, V.J. (2008). Focus on formative feedback, Review of Educational Research, 78(1), 153-189.

Channel, T. (2015, October 28). I noticed & I wondered Retrieved from             https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/student-to-student-feedback-nea

  1. (1995). Take screenshots and screencasts for free, with Jing. Retrieved August 4, 2016 from https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html?gclid=COX8taCDqc4CFZBhfgodt8gN5w

How to create a Kahoot! (2014, December 10). Retrieved August 4, 2016, from education,  http://mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2014-12-13T05:00:00- 06:00&max-results=5

Burke, L., & Servilio, K. (2014, October 6). Which e-portfolio tool is best for you? Retrieved August 4, 2016, from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=31&category=Toolbox&article=Which-e-portfolio-tool-is-best-for-you

Digication. Digication. Retrieved August 4, 2016, from https://www.digication.com/

Channel, T. (2014, May 13). Guided groups Retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/guided-groups-formative-assessment
 
Channel, T. (2014, May 13). Peer Conferencing Retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/peer-conferencing

 

Teacher Leadership Standard 7: Utilize Instructional Framework for Teaching (TPEP) to Improve Teaching

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Course Description:

This course is an exploration of the administrative process, role of leadership, theories related to administration and leadership, and an examination of the basic principles of leadership, work motivation, decision-making, and communication. In addition, the course examines the principles of school culture that influence student achievement.

Washington Principal Leadership Standard 1

Visionary Leadership: A school or program administrator is an educational leader who has the knowledge, skills, and cultural competence to improve learning and achievement to ensure the success of each student by leading the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by school/program and community stakeholders.

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Strand 1 – Advancing a school- or program-wide shared vision for learning. Residency

Articulate purposes and rationale for a site-specific vision for learning consistent with the district-wide vision. Demonstrate how schools develop an inclusive shared vision that promotes success for each student.

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Strand 2 – Putting the vision for learning into operation. Residency

Identify objectives and strategies to implement a school vision. Analyze how systems are affected by a shared vision and suggests changes to an existing system. Demonstrate ability to develop school improvement plans that align structures, processes, and resources with a vision.

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Strand 3 – Developing stewardship of the vision. Residency

Demonstrate understanding of the leader’s role as keeper of the vision while establishing a means to involve stakeholders in keeping the vision. Evaluate how the vision serves the needs of students, staff and community. Demonstrate understanding of how to use the vision to facilitate effective communication, nurture and maintain trust, develop collaboration among stakeholders and celebrate efforts and achievement of the vision.

Washington Principal Leadership Standard 5

Ethical Leadership: A school or program administrator is an educational leader who has the knowledge, skills, and cultural competence to improve learning and achievement to ensure the success of each student by acting with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner.

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Strand 1 – Using the continuous cycle of analysis for self-assessment of professional leadership Residency

Understand and exemplify the standards, responsibilities, and indicators for the principal’s role in a democratic school. Create a professional growth plan, identifies needed growth, plans professional growth activities, and gathers evidence to document that professional growth leads to school improvement and increased student learning. Engage in self-analysis of own values, behaviors, and dispositions, including awareness of own ethnicity/culture as it relates to others.

 


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Course Goals:

The goal of this course is to give those leading and working in Washington Public Schools the ability to:

Competence (Knowledge)

  1. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to be effective leaders and administrators (Standard 1,3)
  2. Actively explore and reflect upon the nature of leadership, collaboration and inclusion, and empowerment in school settings. Understand the expectations the public holds for school leaders (Standard 1,2)
  3. Demonstrate familiarity with the ISLLC Standards for School Leaders, the Washington Principal Leadership Standards and their indicators (Standard 1)
  4. Be able to draft a Visionary Leadership Analysis (VLA) of their own school (Standard 1,5)
  5. Be able to draft a Reflection on Leadership Standards to critique and recommend areas and methods of improvement in their own leadership skills (Standard 1,5)
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of current research findings in educational leadership and analyze and reflect on implications for practice in their own school context (Standard 1,6)
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of contemporary issues affecting education. (Standard 6)
  8. Comprehend literature, research, and theory associated with organizational climate, particularly as it is manifested in schools (Standard 1,2)
  9. Understand research and scholarship on school culture and its relationship with meaningful school vision, values, and goals (Standard 1,2)

Leadership (Application of Knowledge)

  1. Involve and empower stakeholders to articulate and accomplish the mission and vision of a school community (Standard 1,4)
  2. Assess their own leadership style and articulate their own professional philosophy about education and school leadership (Standard 1,5)
  3. Identify characteristics of and designs strategies for a collaborative work environment within the school (Standard 1,2)
  4. Analyze data gained from multiple stakeholders to diagnose and evaluate the development, implementation, and sustainability of a vision (Standard 1,2)
  5. Utilize data gained from multiple stakeholders  to identify perceptions of the work environment (Standard 1,2, 4)
  6. Demonstrate leadership dispositions that convey a missions-focused perspective of school leadership aimed at leading schools to a culture that respects and cultivates the spiritual dimension of humanity exemplified by care, reconciliation, character development, openness, mutual respect, trust, and freedom to learn. (Standard 4,5)

Dispositions (Character)

In addition to gaining Knowledge and Applied Knowledge the student should demonstrate leadership dispositions related to each standard as follows:

In addition to gaining Knowledge and Applied Knowledge the student should demonstrate leadership dispositions related to each standard as follows:

Dispositions for WPL Standard 1: The candidate’s required course product (VLA) should provide an opportunity to demonstrate and discuss the following dispositions:

16. the educability of all students;

17. high standards of learning;

18. continuous school improvement;

19. culturally responsive programs and leadership;

20. ensuring students’ success;

21. willingness to continuously examine one’s own assumptions, beliefs, and practices.

 

Dispositions for WPL Standard 5: The candidate’s required course product (VLA) should provide an opportunity to demonstrate and discuss the following dispositions:

 

  1. the right of every student to a free, quality education;
  2. bringing ethical principles to the decision-making process;
  3. subordinating one’s own interest to the good of the school community;
  4. accepting the consequences for upholding one’s principles and actions;
  5. using the influence of one’s office constructively and productively in the service of all students and their families;
  6. development of a caring school community.

 

 


 

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Eight Keys to the Spiritual Dimension of Leadership

 

Throughout the Leadership in Education course, we were asked to reflect on the eight keys to the spiritual dimension of leadership. I really appreciated being able to learn more about spirituality in leadership and the morals and values of an effective leader. Nowhere else have these important characteristics been discussed and studied. Yet, they are so very critical to being a successful leader and human being.

 

Key 1: The Principle of Intention or Moral Purpose

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Before making a plan of action, it is important to think about what you want to happen. If we don’t have an underlying intention, we won’t have a guide in which to follow when making decisions. We won’t have a destination or end point in mind. If we don’t know where we are ultimately going, we can’t know the way to get there. We need to know ourselves and be clear about our own intentions and why we feel the way the we do. We need to ask ourselves…What are the underlying emotions or thoughts that are guiding my intentions? What is motivating me to have those intentions? In order to be effective leaders, our intentions should be focused on helping others. However, we can help ourselves in the process. Our intentions are sent out as energy into the Universe in a ripple effect, and touch more lives than we can ever know. “We all affect eternity by our thought patters, our words, and our deeds” (Houston, Blankstein, & Cole, 2008). This is a heavy load to bear! I never really thought that far out. I know that my actions and intentions affect others, but I hadn’t really considered the idea that they will affect eternity. When I really think it through, I see how this happens. I can affect one person and that may change how that person relates to another person. This pattern is continuous. We all make impacts on others and those impacts can change lives and future lives. As a Safety Net reading and math teacher, I need to think about my underlying intentions about my students. I know that they are struggling in either reading or math, but my assumptions are that all students can learn and achieve. If I keep this in mind while teaching and planning lessons, I will continue to have high expectations for my students and will creatively work toward meeting their needs. I will advocate for them and will involve other stakeholders, such as parents, in helping students achieve their goals. If I wasn’t consciously aware of my intentions, I might not expect as much out of my students.

Key 2: The Principle of Attention

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We are always telling our kids to “pay attention”. But what does it really mean? What does it mean to give something or someone your attention? “Attention is a way of focusing energy – your energy: mental, physical, and emotional (Houston, Blankstein, & Cole, 2008).” By focusing our energy and tuning out distractions, we make choices about what we are attending to. As a leader it is important to know what we want to focus our attention on based on our intentions and our plan of action. If we focus energy on things or people that will further our intentions, goals, and plans, we are on the right path. If we get distracted by everything that comes at us daily, we can get side-tracked easily. There is a very interesting study that was done on attention and focus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo I have shown this to my students and had them try it out. We then talked about attention. What you plan on focusing on is what you usually attend to. What you don’t plan on focusing on is hidden or tuned-out.

Key 3: The Principle of Unique Gifts and Talents

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Each of us has our own gifts and talents, which we need to uncover and cultivate. When I think about this, I think about a farmer with a field to plant. The farmer needs to research and learn about which crops will inherently grow better in the climate, location, and soil type that she has. Once she figures out which crops to plant, she needs to constantly be tending to and caring for the plants in order for them to maximize their growth and realize their true potential. We are like the farmer in this scenario, except instead of finding out which crops will do best in the environment that they will be grown in, we need to look inward to see what gifts and talents will grow the best within ourselves. Once we figure out what those are, we need to tend to them and continually help them along in their growth and development. As teachers, we help our students to find and cultivate their own gifts and talents. As administrators or teacher leaders, we help our colleagues to uncover, grow and celebrate their strengths. In order to find out what our gifts are, it is important to try new things and take on new challenges. If we don’t take the time to try new things, we may never uncover the hidden jewels that are our talents and our passions.

Key 4: The Principle of Gratitude:

A couple of quotes from the book Spirituality in Educational Leadership resonated with me. “Have an attitude of gratitude.” “Gratitude creates plenitude.” These are good things to keep in mind and they are catchy sayings which helps us to remember them. Sometimes we get so busy with our own “stuff” that we forget to thank people who have helped us or have done something for us. We should take a few minutes to thank them. This small courtesy can really change someone’s life and/or feelings about them self. During my first year of teaching 3rd grade, I had a student who was very challenging and didn’t even want to be at school. I worked hard to make a connection and get to know this student better. The student came to have a growth mindset and loved coming to school. At the end of that first year of teaching, this student’s mom took the time to write a thank you letter to me and also sent it to my principal to let him know what a positive change she had seen in her daughter that school year. One of the things she said in the letter was… “The most dramatic change we see in M is her improved self-image. Her (I can’t) attitude has been transformed into one of (I can, if I try). M now talks about college, when just one year ago, she said she was going to quit school as soon as she could. Now she really enjoys going to school; looking forward to Mondays, rather than longing for Saturdays.” This letter has made such an impact on me. When I am having a hard day, I look back at that letter to remind myself of why I am a teacher and that I can do it! I remind myself that I am making an impact on my students. As an administrator, I think it is critical to take the time to thank teachers, parents, students, and community members for things they do to help. You never know what an impact it will have on them. I know that I am encouraged to do my best and exert extra effort when someone has appreciated what I have done.

Key Five: The Principle of Unique Life Lessons

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“One of the difficulties many people have when confronted with a problem is that they start stepping forward to meet it when often more progress may be made by stepping back” (Houston, 2008). Usually when I encounter a problem or a difficult situation, I try to figure out a solution right away. I want to get past it as soon as possible. However, I should take the time to look at the whole situation and see the big picture before I jump in to try to solve the problem. I try to look at problems or mistakes as learning experiences. Just as in growth mindset, mistakes “grow your brain” more than getting the correct answer right away. Mistakes, problems, and difficult situations are the things that help us grow as human beings. However, we usually try to stay out of those situations or avoid them because they are uncomfortable. I also try to keep a positive frame of reference when I’m in a difficult situation. It’s all how we perceive the problem as to how it will affect us.

Key 6: The Principle of Holistic Perspective

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There is a children’s picture book based on an old Indian folktale, called Seven Blind Mice. Here is an excerpt from the Amazon.com listing about the book which illustrates the sixth key principle. “It’s a pillar,” says one. “It’s a fan,” says another. One by one, the seven blind mice investigate the strange Something by the pond. And one by one, they come back with a different theory. It’s only when the seventh mouse goes out-and explores the whole Something-that the mice see the whole truth.” Each mouse only notices a part of the “whole thing” and doesn’t get the full picture. They are all very wrong in their assumptions about what the “thing” is. When one mouse finally explores the “whole thing”, they all finally know what it actually is.

As leaders, it is our job to be that final mouse who explores all the details to find the whole. That mouse went back and shared his findings with the other mice. We can share our findings as well. We can help others to see the whole picture, along with the details.

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I also really like a particular quote in our text for this key principle. “Enlightened leaders help others recognize not only that they are part of something larger than themselves, but also that every part is vital and important to the success of the whole.” We can look at our school staff as the “whole picture” and each person is an integral part to the whole. We all work collaboratively to create the whole.

Key 7: The Principle of Openness

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“Openness involves letting things in, especially things you don’t want to hear, and letting things out, as in openly speaking your truth, especially when it is not popular or good politics.” The recent presidential election in America has shown us that people are not as open as they hoped or claimed to be. Being open to only views that match your own is not truly being open. Being open is being able to listen to other perspectives and share your own in a civilized way. It does not mean you have to change your views. However, if we are open to listening and also to sharing our ideas, we might as a country come to an understanding of each other and be able to work together and get along. We might need to remember the saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We can think about how we might feel if we were the other person and ask ourselves the question of how we would want to be treated? This sounds like an easy thing to do, but I think the principle of openness is the hardest one to do in practice.

Key 8: The Principle of Trust

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“Trust that people are innately good and treat them accordingly.” (Houston et al., 2008, p. 32)

I think along with being a trustworthy person, we need to put our trust in others as well.

“The very act of trusting people unleashes a powerful force that empowers them and brings out the best in them.”  (Houston et al., 2008, p. 32)  Just as students will rise to the high standards we ask them to meet, so too will others rise to meet the challenge of our trust in their abilities. We have a choice in how we relate to others. We can have a trusting attitude, or we can micromanage and give others the feeling that we don’t trust them to follow through. As a leader, I will strive to be both trustworthy and trusting. “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.” Mother Teresa

 


 

During this class, we also reflected on the six Washington State Leadership Standards and analyzed our strengths and weaknesses related to those standards based on managerial and personality assessments that we took. The following are summaries of the six standards and an action plan to achieve the standards.

 

Standard 1 – Visionary Leadership

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The first WSP standard focuses on visionary leadership. This standard moves from creating a shared vision, to implementing that vision. It concludes with continual evaluation, communication, and collaboration in order to follow through with and/or make adjustments to the shared vision. The foundation of this vision is the improvement of student learning and growth and success for all students. The school vision should be aligned with the district vision and should be co-developed and supported by the school and community stakeholders. The principal should be able to articulate this vision in order to increase understanding and support. The vision should be based on student data and research-based strategies of instruction. The vision must be constantly evaluated and adjusted by looking at student data, changing circumstances, cultural competence, and identification of barriers to success. Objectives and strategies to carry out this vision must be identified and analyzed and resources need to be addressed. Along with this process of the evaluation of effectiveness comes the giving and receiving of feedback to help guide further steps and plans. This evaluation should determine how the vision is meeting the needs of students, staff and the community. Along with making adjustments and creating shared responsibility, celebrating successes toward the progress of the vision is critically important.

Standard 2 – Instructional Improvement

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The second WSP standard focuses on instructional improvement. It emphasizes establishing and maintaining an effective school culture, improved student learning, and intentional professional development. Student learning and cultural perspectives and customs need to be taken into account when developing a School Improvement Plan. The principal should encourage collaboration between all stakeholders and should use a variety of strategies and systems to promote student success. Continuous learning should be the school mantra for both student and staff development and learning. Programs, systems, and technology should all be continuously analyzed to determine whether they are contributing to student growth. Staff should feel that everyone is on a team together to improve student learning and should participate in a continuous cycle of analysis, assessment, and collaboration to increase student growth. The principal should supervise instruction while continuing to hold the trust of the staff. The principal should also help staff to look at curriculum, instructional strategies, and assessments to align them with school, district, and state learning goals. A principal should keep in mind students’ language, cognitive, and cultural needs when looking at instruction and strategies. The WA teacher and principal evaluation criteria should be used to reflect on and analyze a principal’s own growth and needs, along with guiding teachers and staff to analyze and reflect on their own areas of success and areas of needed growth. A principal should help to determine the barriers to student growth and help to create plans for how to overcome them. Based on student learning and staff needs, a principal should help to collaboratively create a staff development plan and should work to build leadership capacity among stakeholders. Supervising, coaching, and helping to create a cycle of inquiry for student learning are all critical roles of the principal in order to ensure that the school is offering its students the most effective teaching techniques and skills in order to advance their growth and learning.

Standard 3 – Effective Management

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The third WSP standard focuses on effective management. It emphasizes using a continuous cycle of evaluation and reflection to improve student learning by analyzing systems, management of the organization, operations, and resources, to ensure a safe, effective, and efficient learning environment. A principal should model, inspire, and collaborate with others in this continuous cycle of analysis. Organizational theory is the basis for the development of procedures and programs to promote safety, behavior management, equitable practices, and increased student learning. A principal should be aware of and comply with legal and ethical issues and bargaining agreements. The principal should maintain records and practice confidentiality of those records. Communication, collaboration, and feedback are all critical to the effective management of a school. It is also important to encourage shared responsibility of management operations. The principal needs to take into consideration how financial, human, material resources, and scheduling affect student learning and how to maximize these resources for the benefit of all students.

Standard 4 – Inclusive Practice

The fourth WSP standard focuses on inclusive practices. It emphasizes collaboration with families, diverse communities, and mobilizing community resources to ensure equitable practices and achievement for all students. Family engagement positively affects student success. It is important to reach out to, include, and involve families and diverse populations in the support of students. We assume that all stakeholders have the best interests of students in mind and want students to learn and achieve. Culturally responsive techniques should be used when communicating with families and communities. Staff, families and stakeholders are all part of the school team and should regularly collaborate together and work to build positive relationships with each other.  The principal should make sure that students are taught about biases and stereotypes and are given the opportunity to interact with students who are different from themselves. This standard also includes mobilizing community resources and funds for student achievement.

Standard 5 – Ethical Leadership

The fifth WSP standard is ethical leadership. It focuses on increasing student success through self-assessment of professional leadership and by being fair and ethical. The principal should create a professional growth plan which identifies strengths and areas for improvement, with plans for professional learning and assessment, in order to further student achievement. It is also important for a principal to analyze their own biases, values, and behaviors. One must lead based on high moral and ethical standards and stay within legal frameworks. Others must be treated with fairness, respect, dignity, and equity. The principal must acknowledge their own values and beliefs and use them to guide their actions and decisions. They must also serve as a role model for the highest standards of ethics, fairness, respect, and equity.

Standard 6 – Socio-Political Context

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The sixth WSP standard is socio-political context. This standard focuses on understanding and influencing local, state, and national policies as they relate to education, in order to improve learning and achievement. Schools have a responsibility to contribute to a democratic society and advocate for equitable services and funds to benefit all students and families. A principal should develop systems that value diversity and prepare students to live and participate in a democratic and global society.

Course of Action Plan

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The WSP standards document gives excellent ideas for growth for each of the six standards. In order to enhance my leadership skills, I would like to delve more into my school’s current continuous improvement plan in order to better understand the details of my school’s vision and goals. I also plan to continue to participate in my PLC group within my school to further my skills in the cycle of continuous improvement through analyzing student data, creating formative assessments, collaborating to come up with effective strategies and systems, and reflecting and making adjustments on those as we analyze student data. I plan to lead parts of staff meetings and staff developments in order to practice working with groups of adults. I also think it would be very beneficial to observe or talk with staff from different schools to get a wider perspective on effective administrative practices.

 

I would like to be on a hiring team for prospective staff members so that I can learn more about the process of hiring the most effective people. I would like to go on more learning walks around both my own school and in classrooms at other schools to see different teachers, strategies and systems in action. I would like to attend budget meetings with my principal and office manager to learn more about the effective use of school resources and the challenging decision making process when it comes to how to allocate school funds equitably. I recently researched school discipline theories and systems, but would like to learn more about best practices in the area of school-wide and differentiated discipline. I need to delve more deeply into my own teacher contract in order to understand the language of the contract so that as an administrator, I will have a foundation of knowledge in this area.

 

In order to build up my experience in working with families and community members, I would like to attend a school board meeting and become more involved in the school PTSA program. I would like to look into community opportunities and funding sources or grants to benefit our students.

 

Through doing all of these things, I feel that I will be able to learn more about the role of school leadership and will be helping myself to learn about and internalize these six WSP standards. I will also be learning more about myself, my values, leadership, and management styles and will be working to create my theory of action on which to base all of my future decisions as a school administrator.

 


 

 

During this class I worked on two large projects to help me to build my leadership skills. One of them was an annotated bibliography on discipline issues and approaches. The other was a Visionary Leadership Analysis (VLA) in which I analyzed my current school’s visioning and decision making processes and based on school data, reflected on the effectiveness of the school in meeting its goals and realizing its vision through collaboration and communication.

 

Annotated Bibliography: Discipline Issues and Approaches

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Through the articles that I read and the research that I studied related to discipline in schools, I have come to some conclusions regarding effective discipline models and strategies. According to Fenning et al. (2008) 72.5% of administrators surveyed felt that discipline issues were an increasing component of their jobs. Discipline is something that every school and every individual teacher must contemplate and determine which system and strategies they will use. “The important realization is that there is not one perfect discipline approach. Teachers must discover what works best for themselves, their students, and their specific situations” (Morris, 1996, p. 12). That being said, teachers and administrators need the tools and knowledge about research based discipline strategies in which to choose from. Alsubaie (2015) states that teachers should take courses on effective, research based discipline strategies.

Morris (1996) states that discipline fits into two broad categories, reactive and proactive. Reactive discipline is punishment without instruction and often includes exclusionary methods. Proactive discipline is when a plan is in place for how to deal with behavior issues before they arise and has a teaching element to it. Morris (1996) states that the majority of research that he studied showed that the proactive approach to discipline is more effective than the reactive form. However, the reactive approach seems to be much more common in schools. Fenning et al. (2008) conducted a research study on high school codes of conduct handbooks and found that suspension and expulsion were the most common consequences for all types of behavior, including mild behaviors. Proactive discipline consequences only occurred 10% of the time in the codes of conduct. Lewis and Burman (2008) surveyed teachers to find out what management style they preferred to use, based on the three categories of Control (teachers in charge), Management (teachers organize students to make decisions), and Influence (student voice is equal to the teacher’s voice). They found that overall, teachers would like to have more student input in classroom discipline decision making. More teachers chose the Management and Influence styles over Control. However, they found that there were many roadblocks to including more student voice. These roadblocks include the following: too many things to do, class size, classroom size/layout, and a lack of administrator support.

A variety of different discipline systems and strategies were covered within my research including behavior modification/assertive discipline, Restorative Justice (RJ)/Restorative Approaches (RA), Love and Logic, and Positive Behavior Supports (PBS). Palardy (1996) said that behavior modification and assertive discipline (both based on a system of rewards) have been shown to be successful, but that they have many drawbacks to their use. He states that they should not be the only discipline method used in schools and that they don’t work with all students, in all situations. These two systems treat the symptoms and not the causes of the behavior. They usually only offer short-term benefits and don’t always transfer to new situations. Palardy (1996) also feels that these systems devalue a student’s self-discipline. He concludes that teachers should try to get to the root of the problem behavior, foster student self-discipline and also use preventative discipline methods in addition to reactive ones. McCluskey et al. (2011) took a deeper look at RA/RJ (based on repair, restoration, and prevention, rather than punishment) and found that according to research, it seems to have had a “positive and sustained impact on most schools” (McCluskey et al., 2011, p. 105). However, many schools that use RA/RJ, still rely on punitive disciplinary methods and feel that RA/JA are not firm enough. In addition, teachers stated that RA/RJ oftentimes didn’t match up with the school’s discipline policies and weren’t sure how they would work in challenging behavior situations. Fay and Funk’s (1995, p. 26) proactive Love and Logic system is based on three basic rules. These three rules are 1) Use enforceable limits; 2) Provide choices within limits; and 3) Apply consequences with empathy. The authors have used a multitude of research on discipline and practical experiences to design this behavior system. I also read about the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) system, which is a three-tiered approach for school-wide, classroom/small group, and individual behavior supports. Morrissey, et al. (2010) described the need for more proactive discipline approaches. “Traditional reactive approaches to discipline are repeatedly failing to improve the behaviors of many students, including students from diverse populations and with exceptionalities” (Morrissey, et al., 2010, p. 27). Based on the research that they studied, they found that PBS tends to work well in both elementary and middle schools. The authors conducted a case study to see how well PBS worked in a high school setting. The findings were hopeful as the rates of office discipline referrals dropped after implementing PBS. The authors however, caution readers that more research needs to be done in order to generalize the findings.

Based on all the research articles that I read, I agree that we need multiple discipline systems and strategies to meet the needs of all students. I feel that teachers should have the opportunity to learn about and use more research based proactive discipline approaches and that school codes of conduct should reflect those approaches and rely less on reactive, exclusionary consequences. I think PBS is a great framework to use for overall school discipline. Within that framework, I see a place for different research based strategies such as behavior modification/assertive discipline, RA/RJ, and Love and Logic techniques. An important take-away that I got while researching was that a school should have clear discipline policies and approaches and that staff should model and directly teach the accepted behaviors. They should be more proactive than reactive and should be more about teaching desired behaviors instead of resorting to punishments.

 

Visionary Leadership Analysis (VLA)

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Redmond Elementary is a diverse school with high academic standards. Based on assessment data, some students are highly achieving, and others are not making the gains that we would hope to see and that we strive as educators to create. The achievement gap is still alive and strong at Redmond Elementary. Even though the staff is motivated to help all students achieve and grow, something seems to be missing.  The missing piece that might just build an even stronger school community with all stakeholders and increase student achievement, could be the co-creation and continual focus on a school vision that all stakeholders can get behind and support. When everyone agrees on and values a common set of goals and beliefs, a path is created toward success.

 


 

Reflection

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This class has been very helpful in increasing my understanding of the leadership standards and how they play out in the school setting. Because of this class, I plan to use the eight keys to the spiritual dimension of leadership as guides to my decision making and actions as a school leader. I plan to be collaborative and inclusive when creating, implementing, and evaluating a school vision. In this way, I will be creating a more positive school culture by working together with all stakeholders to create a common purpose. I plan to model a commitment to high expectations for students and staff, through collaborative practices, shared decision making, analysis of data and research, and continuous learning and improvement. Along with creating a positive school climate and culture, I plan to collaboratively monitor data to determine gaps in achievement and design programs and strategies to overcome the barriers to success.

 

 


 

References:

 

Houston, P. D., Blankstein, A. M., & Cole, R. W. (2008). Spirituality in educational leadership. Thousand Oakes, CA: Corwin.

Owens, R. G., & Valesky, T. C. (2015). Organizational behavior in education: Leadership and school reform. Boston: Pearson.

Mayworm, A. M., & Sharkey, J. D. (2014). Ethical considerations in a three-tiered approach to school discipline policy and practice. Psychology in the Schools, 51(7), 693-704.

Alsubaie, M. A. (2015). Educational leadership and common discipline issues of elementary school children and how to deal with them. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(13), 88-93.

Palardy, J. M. (1996). Taking another look at behavior modification and assertive discipline. National Association of Secondary School Principals. NASSP Bulletin, 80(581), 66. 88-93.

McCluskey, G., Kane, J., Lloyd, G., Stead, J., Riddell, S., & Weedon, E. (2011). “Teachers are afraid we are stealing their strength”: A risk society and restorative approaches in school. British Journal of Educational Studies, 59(2), 105-119.

Morris, R. C. (1996). Contrasting disciplinary models in education. Thresholds in Education22(4), 7-13.

Lewis, R., & Burman, E. (2008). Providing for student voice in classroom management:    Teachers’ views. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 12(2), 151-167.

Fenning, P., Golomb, S., Gordon, V., Kelly, M., Scheinfield, R., Morello, T., & … Banull, C. (2008). Written discipline policies used by administrators: Do we have sufficient tools of the trade? Journal of School Violence, 7(2), 123-146.

Zeller, N., & Gutierrez, M. A. (1995). Speaking of discipline, … : An international perspective. Thresholds in Education, 21(2), 60-66.

Fay, J., & Funk, D. (1995). Teaching with love & logic: Taking control of the classroom.    Colorado, United States: The Love and Logic Institute, Inc.

Morrissey, K. L., Bohanon, H., & Fenning, P. (2010). Positive behavior support. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(5), 26-35.

 

 

Standard 4: Engage in Analysis of Teaching and Collaborative Practices

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The course goals of Accomplished Teaching were…

  • Examine and implement effective planning/preparation, instruction and assessment strategies from Domains 1 and 3 of the Danielson Framework to maximize student learning.
  • Analyze the impact of instruction on student learning through personal and collaborative reflection on 1) written lesson plans, 2) videotaped segments of instruction/learning, and 3) student work.
  • Practice the fundamentals of individual, partner, and small group reflective practice to promote continuous learning. (Domain 4 of Danielson Framework: Professional Responsibilities)

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Individual and collaborative reflective practices are critical components of effective teaching. At the beginning of this course, I thought about how I was reflective in my teaching practice. Through my recent National Board certification process, I reflected on my practice individually, as well as in groups within my cohort. Through videotaping and analyzing my lessons, I was better able to see where I was successful in a lesson and also where I could improve in the future. Through the process of obtaining my National Boards in literacy, I was also able to build up my skills in my current content area of reading intervention (Danielson 1a, 4a, 4e). Another way that I have been reflective in my teaching practice is through our building Data Teams process. I work with my team to look at student assessment data, analyze effective and ineffective teaching strategies, and design lessons to maximize student understanding and learning growth (Danielson 1e, 3e, 4a, 4d). I also reflect and make adjustments during and directly after a lesson. If I see that students are struggling with a concept or that something is hindering a student’s clear understanding of the lesson, I will either make adjustments at that moment, or will change things up for the next day. I take into account the struggles that my students are having and come up with a strategy or strategies that I think will be most effective in helping them understand and get the most out of the lesson (Danielson 3c, 3e, 4a). As a Safety Net (reading and math intervention) teacher, I consistently team up with different grade level teachers to learn more about the students I’m working with, share assessment data, and communicate back and forth on student progress and teaching strategies that might work best for those students (Danielson 1b, 4a, 4d, 4e). Continuously reflecting on my teaching practices, both individually and with others, helps me to become a more effective teacher.

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Throughout this course we have gone much deeper into learning about what it means to reflect. We analyzed the Danielson Framework and how it can be a guide for us in our reflective practices. The Danielson model is a research-based teacher evaluation framework. Studies have shown that students who made high levels of growth had teachers who exhibited or used certain instructional techniques and strategies. These high quality teacher attributes and best practices were combined together to create the Danielson Framework. This model is a very thorough evaluation tool that can be used by schools to help determine teachers’ strengths and weaknesses. It can be used to weed out less effective teachers and to help guide principals in creating positive changes within their staff. The domains and their subsets can be used as springboards for staff development, teacher improvement, and  goal setting. The framework also helps to create a more uniform and equitable evaluation system, so all principals in a district are using the same criteria for assessment. The framework is an excellent guideline for teachers to use to see where their current teaching practice falls and what they can do to improve their skills.

To be a reflective educator we must be committed to our own continual professional development. A reflective educator also stays focused on student learning and development as their top priorities. In addition, reflection requires drawing on our past experiences, but also being willing to listen and take into account different ideas and perspectives in order to learn and build up the tools in our educational toolboxes. This quote from the book shows how challenging, yet rewarding being a reflective teacher can be… “Significant learning generally involves fluctuating episodes of anxiety-producing self-scrutiny and energy-inducing leaps forward in ability and understanding” (Brookfield, 1992, p. 12).

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There are many things that can impede the process of reflection. It is oftentimes hard to challenge our current beliefs and biases. We get stuck in our ways and in our ideas. In order to be reflective, we must be open to looking at alternative theories and suggestions. We must be open-minded. If we are reflecting with a partner or in a group, sometimes it can be hard to stay focused and listen. Oftentimes, we want to jump in with our own ideas, when we should be listening and processing what the others are saying. Reflective practices can also fail when the topic is not personally meaningful or relevant to those involved. If there is a lack of trust, people will be unwilling to share their thoughts and ideas. Lack of trust is a huge barrier to reflection.

expert

During this course, we also analyzed what it means to be an accomplished teacher. Through individual reflection I came up with the following list of the attributes of an accomplished teacher.

  • Uses formative and summative assessment
  • Asks higher level questions
  • Has high expectations
  • Involves parents
  • Instills a love of learning
  • Uses research based strategies
  • Includes students by sharing learning goals, rubrics, and success criteria
  • Gives students feedback
  • Is guided by Common Core standards
  • Is a team player with other staff
  • Is reflective with self and others
  • Finds opportunities for improvement and learning
  • Is a good listener
  • Encourages and motivates students
  • Instruction is data driven
  • Differentiates instruction
  • Scaffolds instruction (I do – We do – You do)
  • Knowledgeable about resources
  • Good communication skills
  • Coaches students individually and in small groups
  • Teaches students that they are responsible for their own learning
  • Encourages active student participation
  • Excellent classroom management and systems and routines
  • Positive attitude
  • Uses a variety of media and teaching resources
  • Adaptable and flexible
  • Inspires students
  • Compassionate
  • Capitalizes on teachable moments and student interests

Research

In Module 5 of Accomplished Teaching, we researched articles that illustrated an aspect of accomplished teaching. We also read other students’ articles, as well. The article that I chose was, Mindsets – How to Motivate Students (and Yourself) (2013). Reading this article helped me to understand how to cultivate a growth mindset within myself and with my students. Someone with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence is innate and static. Someone with a growth mindset feels that skills and abilities can be learned. The article shares ways to teach your students to develop a growth mindset. It talks about different types of praise and what works best for developing a growth mindset. It also discusses how we need to change our thinking about frustration and confusion during learning and that it is part of the process of building skills and learning. It also discusses the importance of giving students feedback and what that feedback should look like.

What I learned throughout this course is that an accomplished teacher takes time to reflect individually about her own practice. It is hard to carve out this time in an already over-packed week, but it is very important to fit in time to process your teaching and your students’ learning. After doing this, you can decide to make changes in your instruction or to remember which strategies were particularly effective. In addition, it is important to reflect with other staff members. A PCC team is a great avenue to share ideas and reflect with a team of educators. The PCC team uses formative and summative assessments to drive instruction. The team also focuses on Common Core standards and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each student. They discuss differentiated strategies that they feel will improve student learning for all students, whether they are remedial or advanced. An accomplished teacher takes the time to listen to other teachers’ ideas and takes a look at multiple perspectives. She encourages others to share and offers a non-judgmental atmosphere for reflection and teamwork.

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An accomplished teacher is always striving to better herself and her practice. She attends classes, seminars, and trainings and shares her learning with her colleagues. An accomplished teacher always keeps students and their learning as the top priority and encourages others to do the same.  We need to remember that we don’t know everything, we are always learning and improving, and that we and our colleagues have a vast amount of knowledge and experience to share with each other. We also need to remember that learning takes time and we and others will be making many mistakes as we learn. That’s OK! It’s part of learning and we need to give ourselves and others permission to make mistakes and not be perfect.

collaborate

During this course we also had the opportunity to team up with another student and collaboratively plan lessons that we would teach to our students. As a teacher, this is something that we rarely have time to do in practice, but it was very helpful. Discussing and asking each other questions about our prospective lessons helped us to clarify and reflect on our thinking and planning. After we taught our lessons, we watched each other’s videotaped lessons and reflected on how the lessons progressed. We offered feedback to each other and commented on these new ideas. Teaching is most often an isolating profession, but taking time to work with, or observe another teacher can help us to hone our own craft and also share our ideas with others.

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At the end of the course, I researched best practice strategies for teaching multiplication facts. Van de Walle suggests some great strategies to help students master these facts. Two good websites that he recommends are www.fun4thebrain.com, which has fun fact practice games and http://kentuckymathematics.org/pimser_printables.php, which has printables for teaching and practicing math facts (Van de Walle, Karp, & Bay-Williams, 2013). Another effective strategy is using music and rhymes to help students to remember their multiplication facts. “When information is put to rhythm and rhyme these musical elements will provide a hook for recall. Songs, chants, poems, and raps will improve memory of content facts and details through rhyme, rhythm, and melody.” (Brewer, 2012)

I plan to intentionally teach my students the various multiplicative strategies that Van de Walle suggests. I also plan to focus on math fact families instead of clumping them all together at once. I intend to use story problems to help my students to get a real world feel for the patterns among the various facts. I also plan to focus on the commutative property of multiplication so that they see that the number of facts they need to learn will be cut in half. I plan to use YouTube videos with songs and rhymes for the different fact families to help my students internalize the facts in a fun and interactive way. I will incorporate computer games to help my students to master and maintain mastery of the different multiplication facts.

support-us

I am supporting my colleagues in our reflective practice by sharing these findings with my fourth grade data team. We are focusing on multiplication for our Professional Growth Goal and in our data team cycles. These strategies and findings will be helpful to all of us in order to help us reach our goals. As we try out these different strategies, we will come back together and reflect on student learning and either adjust our teaching or continue on with additional strategies. In addition to sharing my research paper with my team, I am also sharing all the resources and the YouTube videos that I am finding to help our students learn their facts through rhyme and song. By sharing and reflecting with other teachers, we can improve our teaching and the success of our students (York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, & Montie, 2006)

intentional

Based on everything that I have learned during this quarter in my Accomplished Teaching class, I am much more intentional in my lesson planning and teaching to incorporate the attributes of accomplished teachers. I keep the Danielson Framework in mind throughout my role as a teacher. This year, I have been more intentional about including my students and their parents in the learning process. I have started sending home weekly emails to parents to let them know what we are working on and what the current vocabulary or sight words are, so that they can support their students at home. I have also invited them all to our Safety Net Haiku December 2015 067page, which has multiple resources and information on reading and math support. I have made charts for my students so that they can graph their progress and track their learning. I set up accounts for my students on our reading curriculum (Wonders) Adaptive Learning. The students can work on increasing their literacy skills online at home with fun games and activities.

share

I have also been sharing my learning and the new resources with my colleagues throughout the building and on my PCC data team. In addition, I have been team teaching with one of our fourth grade teachers for daily math instruction. We collaborate and reflect on a daily basis about our teaching and student learning. Based on the learning in this class, I am now more cognizant of what it means to effectively reflect with a partner. I try to listen more, learn from my partner teacher’s strategies and ideas, and give feedback on what I feel is working and what needs to be adjusted. I have also learned to not feel as bad when receiving feedback from others and was reminded that we all make mistakes and that it is a learning process to improve your practice. This was clearly illustrated this past week during one of our math lessons. I was teaching the group and feeling really good about how the lesson was going. I thought that the students were mostly “getting it”. After the lesson, the other teacher and I had time to reflect when the kids went to their specialist class. She told me that the instruction time was too long and that I had lost some of the kids. Wow, that was contrary to what I had been thinking. This group of fourth grade students is a very challenging one. Many of the students don’t feel like they are good at math and have motivation issues. At first, when the teacher had given me her feedback, my mind jumped to a defensive mode. Then I stepped back and thought about what she had said. We discussed it some more and in the future, I will be more thoughtful about keeping my lessons to a shorter time frame. Reflection, both individual and with others is critical to improving teaching practice and becoming a more accomplished teacher.

 

References

Brookfield, S. (1992). Why can’t I get this right? Myths and realities in facilitating adult learning. Adult learning, 3(6), 12.

York-Barr, J., Sommers, W., Ghere, G., & Montie, J. (2006). Reflective practice to improve schools: An action guide for educators (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Mindsets: How to motivate students (and yourself).(2013). Educational Horizons, 91(2), 16-21. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ999522&site=ehost-live; http://pilambda.org/horizons/mindsets/

Brewer, C. B. (2012). Music and learning: Integrating music in the classroom. Retrieved 11/29, 2015, from http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/Arts%20in%20Education/brewer.htm

Van de Walle, John A., Karp, K. S., & Bay-Williams, J. M. (2013). Reasoning strategies for multiplication and division facts. In K. Villella Canton (Ed.), Elementary and middle school mathematics teaching developmentally (Eighth ed., pp. 181-182, 183, 184, 186) Pearson.