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Standards 6 and 7 Meta-Reflection: Communication and Collaboration June 2, 2012

As I reflect back on this course I notice that much of my most meaningful learning is related to improving collaboration with my colleagues and the school community and communicating the fruits of these collaborations with others in the profession.

Effective collaboration is not possible without sincere trust and transparency amongst educators within a system. Hirsh. & Hord (2010) state that trust and transparency foster a sense of mutual accountability by teachers to all students in a school, rather than just focusing solely on one’s own class for one year. One specific example of fostering a trusting relationship with other educators is establishing a lesson study group to explore a research question. This job embedded learning involves inviting peer teachers to observe teaching techniques and strategies, evaluate the student learning, and give and receive feedback. (Zepeda, 2012) In order for this to be an effective agent for increased teacher learning, educators must take the risk of opening up their classroom doors and letting their colleagues in. Sharing our collective expertise as well as accepting and honoring feedback are powerful tools we can utilize as we work towards school reform and increased student learning.

As a teacher in Texas during the 2006-2007 school year I participated in a lesson study group that included teachers across all grade levels. We focused our study on a series of 4th grade lessons that addressed the genre of biographies. I appreciated the discussions we had as they were from the perspective of many different grade levels. The lessons were rich as a result of our collective input. It was also helpful to engage in lesson planning and analysis for a different grade level.  I was able to gain new learning and apply it to vertical alignment.

As I combine my learning from my lesson study experience in 2007 with what I have learned about lesson study as presented in Zepeda, I believe that this type of professional development can have the greatest impact on teacher learning. In 2004, Lewis et al. (as cited in Zepeda, 2012, pp. 228-229) defined seven pathways to instructional improvement through lesson study as well as their related challenges. Benefits such as increased teacher knowledge in instruction and subject matter, improved collaboration skills, stronger motivation, and improved quality of lessons were referenced and create a strong case in support of lesson study. The challenges included trust, fear of failure, feelings of isolation, identifying oneself as a researcher, time, and resources. Probably the most daunting of these challenges is time and resources, as is the case with many worthwhile practices of professional development. I believe that as we gain momentum in effective teacher learning, such as lesson study, and practice efficient use of money and time, we can realize the full impact of our efforts on the ultimate goal of improving student learning.

There is no doubt that effective collaboration between educators and the greater community is a worthwhile endeavor, to say the least. One aspect of this practice that I had not considered prior to this course is the importance of sharing our collaborative learning with others in the profession. Learning in isolation or in small cohorts can stifle the potential growth of teachers. This was clearly illustrated in 2 case studies we read about in this course. Michelson  (2007) gave an account of a small group of teachers who were undergoing a series of literacy coaching sessions with significant success. This had been going on for two years before efforts were put forth to bring other teachers within the school on board. There was some resistance, mistrust, and resentment from the rest of the staff which was due, in large part, to inadequate communication between the “coached” group of teachers and their peers. Kane (2007) described a situation in which a district math specialist was leading a group of teachers in a process to refine the district math standards. This teacher leader was dismayed that the district curriculum director did not invite more math teacher specialists, who were already in place in area schools, to participate. She did not see the value in allowing all teachers to have a chance to experience this form of professional development, rather than just the “expert” teachers.

In order to achieve the ultimate goal of maximizing student learning, teacher leaders need to not only foster collaboration with other teachers but also help create a system that allows for the communication of these learning experiences to other teachers.  Zepeda (2012) consistently conveys this important step as he describes the culminating activities of professional development groups such as learning circles, lesson study, action research teams, and critical friends groups. These teams can share their learning through publishing findings in a professional journal or magazine, conducting a workshop, or even simply making it an agenda item on a staff meeting. We should not keep our new learning to ourselves.

Facilitating participation by other teachers in various professional development activities, especially those whose voices are not usually heard, is another way teacher leaders can broaden the scope of teacher learning. However, as Moore and Donaldson state (as cited in Hilty, 2011), this can be met with much resistance if teachers are overly concerned with protecting their autonomy, reinforcing their seniority, or ensuring egalitarianism. Moore and Donaldson went on to describe several coping strategies teacher leaders employ to deal with such resistance such as waiting to be asked before offering their expertise, only working with willing colleagues, emphasizing their role as supporter rather than supervisor, and seeking more support for their teacher leader roles. Moore and Donaldson’s essay offered many insights into how teacher leaders can respectfully and tactfully influence other teachers in an effort to further the cause of increased student learning. These strategies will be helpful to me as I continue to work on my role as teacher leader in the ever changing landscape of education.

I have crafted a portfolio that reflects my learning in support of Standards 6 and 7, Communication and Collaboration, and have created links to these artifacts below:

Standard 6 – Communication: Scenes of Educator Learning Exhibit A

Standard 7 – Collaboration: Scenes of Educator Learning Exhibit B


Hilty, E., (2011). Teacher leadership: The “new” foundations of teacher education. (pp. 211-217) New York, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Hirsh, S. & Hord, S. (2010). Building hope, giving affirmation: Learning communities that address social justice issues bring equity to the classroom. Journal of Staff Development, 31(4), 10-17.

Kane, D., (2007) Considering all voices. Leadership Cases 2007 School Level Reform, Retrieved from https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-755044-dt-content-rid-671379_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP.ConsideringAllVoices.pdf

Michelson, J, (2007) Filling a leadership vacuum. Leadership Cases 2007 School Level Reform, Retrieved from https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-755044-dt-content-rid-671378_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP.FillingLeadershipVacuum.pdf

Zepeda, S.J. (2012) Professional development: What works. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.


Contrasts and Parallels Between the Roles of Teacher Leading and Teacher Teaming June 1, 2012

Filed under: Standard 7. Collaboration — lktaylor @ 10:17 pm
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During week 2 we read about the distinctions between teacher leading and teacher teaming. As I first considered these two terms, I assumed that they were two distinct and defined roles teachers take on in their school communities.  As we discussed this topic in class and read about it I have come to realize that these roles are fluid and the emphasis on leading or teaming ebbs and flows as teachers collaborate with each other. According to Conley & Muncey (as cited in Hilty, 2011) it is important to note that teachers tend to identify more often with one role over the other.

As I collaborate with my grade level team I notice that my particular role changes throughout the process. We each bring different experiences and expertise to the table so we will often assume leadership responsibilities according to these qualities. For example, my teammate has extensive experience in technology so she leads us in incorporating technology into our curriculum. Another teammate has had much success in partnering with our parent community so she takes on a leadership role in structuring our parent volunteer program. I have had positive outcomes in student writing so I tend to lead in this area.

Our discussions in class during week 2 helped me to understand that this type of leadership can be referred to as a type of “distributive leadership”. Distributive leadership is a good way to utilize the skills of all members of a team, whether the team is a grade level, a school, a community, or a district. Distributive leadership is an interactive process rather than a static one. The outcomes stemming from a team effort under distributive leadership reflect the talents of all, and are not due simply to the leadership of a great principal. This is encouraging to consider and empowers teachers to step up and take on more leadership responsibilities.

Hilty, E., (2011). Teacher leadership: The “new” foundations of teacher education. New York, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.


Scenes of Educator Learning – Exhibit B May 30, 2012

Scenes of Educator Learning

Exhibit B

C&I Program Standard 7 – Collaboration


School A is located in Sammamish, Washington and currently has 612 students enrolled. Our school has been named one of Washington State’s High Achieving Award Winning schools and this year has received the School of Distinction Award. School A staff enjoys a high level of involvement from parents and our school consistently reports 100% PTSA membership. School A also houses the district’s QUEST program for highly capable students.

School A staff strives to meet and exceed district and community expectations as well as our own expectations. A main component of our Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP) is to focus on the following guiding questions as we plan instruction:

  1. 1.      What do we want students to know and be able to do?
  2. 2.      How will we know when students understand?
  3. 3.      What will we do when students don’t understand?
  4. 4.      How do we best support students who already understand?

Maintaining a firm focus on these questions will help to ensure that the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) at the grade, school, community, and district levels work together towards the same goal and, therefore, more effectively impact student learning. (DuFour, et al., 2006.)

These exhibits will specifically address collaborative strategies to improve student learning that engage the community outside of the students and staff in our school. Our district is made up of 4 learning communities. School A is part of a learning community that has 6 elementary schools, one junior high school and one high school. In support of our school CIP, I will describe how my team plans to collaborate with and utilize the talents and expertise of educators across our learning community, as well as our parent community, to address guiding question #1 referenced above; What do we want students to know and be able to do? The second part of this exhibit will describe how we further incorporate our community of parents to help us address the fourth guiding question: How do we best support students who already understand?


Exhibit B: Part 1 – Goal Setting


Goal setting is a strategy that most educators employ when planning instruction. Districts have provided professional development on this subject for many years and research supports the positive impact that goal setting makes on student achievement. Schmoker (as cited in Sullo, 2007, p. 16) goes so far as to say that “setting goals may be the most significant act in the school improvement process, greatly increasing the odds of success.” Furthermore, Bandura & Schunk, (as cited in Northwest Regional Educational Library, 2005) state that learning increases if students personalize the learning goals presented by the teacher. Students who take part in setting their own goals are more successful in attaining these goals. Additionally, our district recently implemented a revised fall conference process that is focused mainly on communicating student learning goals to parents. These research findings, as well as the district’s new goal setting process, have led my grade level to seek effective strategies to engage kindergarteners in goal setting. Such strategies support question #1 in the guiding questions referenced in our CIP: What do we want students to know and be able to do?

Our peer kindergarten teachers in our district Learning Community also recognize the value of goal setting strategies and how goals are communicated to parents during fall conferences. We decided to make conferences an agenda item in our March, 2012 LEAP PLC meeting. (See artifact # 1 below.) As a result of this meeting, our kindergarten team obtained some useful resources that will help us implement a goal setting process at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year and communicate these goals during conferences.

One such resource is a collection of goal setting sheets designed with young learners in mind. (See artifact #2 below.) This goal setting tool is one way teachers can inform students of specific learning goals they will be working towards in the early part of the year. Students also engage in personalizing their goals as they select the ones they want to work on. These goals are shared with parents during fall conferences and are re-evaluated and revised during winter conferences.


Following is a timeline to further define our work towards incorporating goal setting into our curriculum and communicating these goals to the parent community:

(artifacts are noted in bold)

Date Action Resources
January, 2012 School A Kindergarten team identifies goal setting as a focus for improvement. Research data, district mandates
March 9, 2012 Establish parent conferences as an agenda item for an upcoming   district PLC meeting. (Fall conferences are “goal setting” conferences.) (Artifact #1) Communications via email
March 16, 2012 Share resources with district kindergarten PLC members. District kindergarten PLC members, Goal setting sheets for semester 1   and 2(Artifact #2)
August, 2012 Revise content goals as needed to align with current district   standards.Establish lesson plans to introduce goal setting to students in   September, 2012.

Revise semester 1 goal setting sheets as needed.

Current district power standards,School A kindergarten PLC members,

Semester 1 goal setting sheets

Sept. 10-28, 2012 Conduct beginning of year assessments Math CDSA, Reading and writing beginning of year assessments
September 24-28, 2012 Implement goal setting lessons, students complete semester 1 goal   setting sheets. Goal lessons established in August, revised semester 1 goal setting   sheets for students
October 1-4, 2012 Conduct Goal Setting Conferences with parents and students,   communicate current goals as established by student and teacher Completed student goal setting sheets
October, 2012 – January, 2013 Deliver differentiated instruction; link to established student   goals; assess, monitor and adjust instruction as needed Student goals, assessment data
December, 2012 Revise semester 2 goal setting sheets as necessary District math, reading and writing standards; assessment data,   semester 1 and 2 goal sheets
Jan. 22 – 25, 2013 Review goal setting with students, students complete semester 2 goal   setting sheets Goal lessons established in August, revised semester 2 goal setting   sheets for students
January 29 – Feb. 1, 2013 Conduct Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences, review year beginning   goals, review current assessment data, and revise goals as necessary. Semester 1 and 2 goal sheets, student performance data
February, 2013 Reflect on and analyze the effectiveness of the kindergarten goal   setting process. Compare conferences from 2011-12 to conferences from   2012-13. Set new timeline and goals to incorporate improvements. Notes and data from 2011-12 conferences and from 2012-13 conferences



It is clear that we are only part way through the process of implementing an effective goal setting component to our kindergarten curriculum. It is likely that the timetable above will be revised along the way and will continue to evolve as we gain new teacher learning. Some hurdles we may encounter include new and revised district mandates, a changing kindergarten team, increased work load, or decreased parent interest in collaboration, just to name a few.  One thing that will remain constant, however, is my continuing quest to deepen my understanding of effective collaboration with experts in student learning both inside and outside of my school community.


#1- District Learning Community agenda email      #1agenda email

#2 – Semester 1 goal sheets; Semester 2 goal sheets     1st semester goal sheets  2nd semester goal sheets


Exhibit B: Part 2 – Learning Enrichment in Reading


The 4th guiding question from our school CIP – How do we best support students who already understand? – is of particular interest to our school community. We are fortunate to have families in our community that are deeply committed to providing students with ample tools, opportunities, and resources to help them achieve learning at a high level. Much of this support is offered to children before they enter through our kindergarten doors. Early exposure to and interaction with print, language, and other meaningful experiences often send students to kindergarten with advanced reading skills and a desire to continue to grow in this area. It is these students on which we focus as we address guiding question #4.

A report by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2000), states that increased fluency in reading positively impacts comprehension. The report went on to say that reading fluency develops over time and with practice, rather than occurring in a predictable stage of development. For this reason, once students have mastered emergent skills in reading, it would be prudent to engage students in reading experiences that foster fluency.

The Read Naturally program is one such reading program that uses teacher modeling, repeated reading, and progress monitoring to foster fluency skills in students. The Florida Center for Reading Research (2003) found that, while Read Naturally focuses mainly on fluency development, it also addresses other components of reading instruction such as phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension. As a grade level, our PLC decided to offer Read Naturally to our kindergarten students who were reading at a Grade Level Equivalent of 1.0 or higher ( or Guided Reading Level D or higher).

Read Naturally, while a beneficial program for enrichment in kindergarten, is also a time intensive program. It requires trained adults to administer the sessions, a frequency of 2-3 sessions per week per student, and detailed record keeping. As demonstrated by other grade levels, this provides the ideal opportunity to collaborate with our parent community and bring in trained parent volunteers to conduct the sessions. Early in second semester, I consulted with our school Read Naturally coordinator and began the process of selecting willing parents and capable kindergarten readers to get the program up and running. (See artifact #3)

     By the end of February, 2012 most of the parent volunteers were trained and I was able to set up a schedule for Read Naturally. (See artifact #4) The past 3 months have been productive in regards to student fluency practice. All participating students have shown improvement in their reading fluency (Example: artifact #5), they look forward to their reading sessions, and the parent community is actively engaged in improving student learning.


Here is a timeline to further define our work towards reading enrichment through Read Naturally:

                                                       (artifacts are noted in bold)

Date Action Resources
February 1-3, 2012 Contact parents to   garner interest in volunteering for the Read Naturally (RN) program.Submit parent names to   RN coordinator. (Artifact #3)
February 6-10, 2012 Identify students who   are at a reading level appropriate for the RN program.Submit student names to   RN coordinator. Reading assessments
February  15, 2012 Parent RN volunteer   training RN coordinator
February 20–24, 2012 Gather input for,   create, and distribute RN parent volunteer schedule. (Artifact #4) Parent volunteer input
February 27 – end of   year Conduct Read Naturally   sessions.Progress monitor.

Advance levels as   necessary.

Read Naturally   materialsStudent fluency data

RN coordinator

Parent volunteers



So far in this process, I am pleased with the progress students are making in reading fluency. Several students who were not at a level appropriate for participation expressed a desire to participate in reading with the parent volunteers like their peers. I discussed this with the RN volunteers and we set up a protocol where if the sessions for the day were finished and there was time left, the volunteers would pull interested readers who were at or below grade level and read with them at their level. This opens up considerations for further parent volunteer opportunities that address the 3rd guiding question referenced in our CIP –  What will we do when students don’t understand?


#3 – Parent training emails     #3 Parent Training Emails0001

#4 – Parent Read Naturally volunteer schedule     #4 RN Schedule

#5 – Student Fluency Graph/notes     #5Student RN graph-notes


Florida Center for Reading Research. (2003) Read naturally. Retrieved May 28, 2012 from http://www.fcrr.org/FCRRReports/PDF/read_naturally_final.pdf

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Northwest Regional Educational Library. (2005). Setting Objectives.  Focus on Effectiveness. Retrieved May 22, 2012, from http://www.netc.org/focus/strategies/sett.php

Sullo, B. (2007). Activating the desire to learn. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


Teacher Leaders Set the Stage for Effective Collaboration

I notice a commonality as we read about the teacher leader experiences in the materials for week 9.  Effective teacher leaders make good use of the resources and support that are available when they embark on a quest for reform. In addition, rather than steam rolling over opposition or turning around and calling it quits when faced with difficult circumstances or people, teacher leaders recognize the advantages, agreements, and common goals that ARE in place at a particular point in time and then work to build upon them.

In M. Colley’s “Preparing for the Future? Reliving the Past?” (2007), the teacher leader had to step back and focus on the one goal that both groups, the HiCap and AP teachers, had in common which was alignment, not rigor. This proved to be a turning point in the productivity of their meetings. Moore and Morgaen (2011) reference a teacher leader who chose to collaborate with teachers who sought her out, rather than deal with criticisms from teachers who were suspicious of her inexperience. These practices served to build strong groups  in the beginning, while shelving the more sticky issues for a time later in the process when all parties were better aligned in their goals. In both of these situations, the reader was left hopeful that these leaders eventually had even the naysayers on board. I am reminded that when facing a daunting challenge it is best to break it down into smaller parts and align these parts with the common goals of the team. This will strengthen and build rapport amongst the team members and better equip them to deal with the tougher issues down the road.

Moore, S. & Morgaen, L. (2011). Overcoming the obstacles to leadership. In E. Hilty, Teacher leadership: The “new” foundations of teacher education (pp. 211 – 217). New York, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Colley, M. (2007) Preparing for the future? Reliving the past? Cases 2007 District-Level Reform, Retrieved from https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-758919-dt-content-rid-671295_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP-teacher.leadership.cases.pdf


Thinking Like a Scientist Through Action Research May 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lktaylor @ 2:38 am
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In class during week 8 we discussed Zepeda’s (2012) chapter on Action Research. Action research is a logical step to take when an educator wishes to look deeply into his/her own practice and devise a plan to improve student learning. I like that it is systematic and cyclical. Action research calls us to identify an area of focus, collect data, analyze and interpret the data, and define an action plan.  This encompasses the planning part of action research. The next steps are to act on the plan, observe the effects, reflect, and then start the cycle over again, incorporating the new learning.

Kemmis and McTaggart (as cited in Zepeda, 2012, p. 249) emphasize that action research is not simply “the scientific method applied to teaching.” We do not create a hypothesis and then test it out to come to a conclusion. Rather, action research focuses on the researcher and on changing situations.

I am reminded of an event for teachers I attended at the Seattle Aquarium in 2010. The featured speaker was Dr. Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-Chief of Science Magazine. He was also former Head of the National Academy of Sciences. Much of his talk centered on how more science minded teachers are needed in education. Specifically, he would like to see teachers with Ph.Ds in the classroom. (How this would impact state resources is another topic!)The learning associated with graduate degree programs prepares teachers to think and plan in a systematic and scientific manner. This type of thinking becomes second nature. I found myself really intrigued by this notion. I had not considered how important it is for teachers to approach issues and their own learning in this way. Much of the professional development we study in this class falls in line with Dr. Albert’s views. Or, more appropriately, Dr. Albert’s views fall in line nicely with the subject matter of this class.

Zepeda, S.J. (2012) Professional development: What works. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.


Scenes of Educator Learning – Exhibit A May 17, 2012

C&I Program Standard 6 – Communication


School A is located in Sammamish, Washington and currently has 612 students enrolled. Our school has been named one of Washington State’s High Achieving Award Winning schools and this year has received the School of Distinction Award. Samantha Smith staff enjoys a high level of involvement from parents and our school consistently reports 100% PTSA membership. School A also houses the district’s QUEST program for highly capable students.

School A staff strives to meet and exceed district and community expectations as well as our own expectations. After participating in and reviewing the 9 Characteristics Survey, our staff identified characteristic #4, Collaboration and Communication, as an area of focus for our Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP). Specifically, we will continue to develop strong collaborative relationships through the Professional Learning Community Model (PLC) as developed by DuFour, Dufour, Eaker, and Many (2006). According to DuFour, et al., a PLC is defined as “… an ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve.”

In addition to furthering our work in the foundations of PLC collaboration, our CIP also states that teams will formulate “specific, appropriate, and attainable” grade level SMART goals with strategies that support these goals.

Our Kindergarten team consists of two all day teachers and one half day teacher. We have a total of 66 students, 22 in each class. This is the second consecutive year that we have maintained the same grade level team and we look forward to the continued growth of our collaborative practices. In support of our school CIP, our kindergarten team embraced the PLC model of collaboration and put several PLC components in place during the 2011-2012 school year.  We also developed a SMART goal that pertains to the Numbers and Operations strand of our district math standards. The artifacts included later in this exhibit illustrate some of our work in these 2 areas.

Below is a timeline illustrating a series of tasks that address the 2 CIP goals highlighted in these exhibits, as well as the resources needed to accomplish these tasks.

TIMELINE                             (* denotes that an artifact for this item is included in this exhibit)

Date Task Resources
August, 2011 Create team norms *
September,  week 1 2011;Weekly   thereafter Establish weekly PLC team meetings. Common weekly planning time
September, week 2, 2011 Assess all students on number sense.   Identify students who are not at standard. Identify “specific, appropriate,   and attainable grade level *SMART goal”.   Analyze student data. CDSA, Number Sense*Gradebook   event scores
October, week 1, 2011;Weekly   thereafter Establish grade level intervention   block. Begin weekly RTI groups. Common math instruction time for grade   level, remediation and enrichment lessons/activities, (*interactive technology)
November, week 1, 2011; Monthly    thereafter Progress monitor number sense skills.   Adjust groups as necessary Progress monitor formative assessments
January, week 1, 2012 Assess number sense skills. Compare to   SMART goal.  Adjust groups as   necessary. CDSA Number Sense, assessment data
April, week 1, 2012 Assess number sense skills. Compare to   SMART goal.  Adjust groups as   necessary. CDSA Number sense, assessment data
June, week 2, 2012 Assess number sense skills. Analyze   data and compare to SMART goal.  Reflect   on whether or not goal was met. What improvements can be made for next year? CDSA Number sense, assessment data


CIP Goal #1: PLC

Artifact: Team Norms

Our first step to establishing our grade level team as a PLC was to create a set of norms for our group meetings. DuFour, et al. states that clarification of team expectations promotes unity and collaboration within a team. To start this process, we simply discussed our “pet peeves” associated with meetings. Each of the 3 team members contributed to this list and, therefore, became invested in the process.

Artifact: Data Analysis

     As we met in our PLC group, my team and I would analyze data derived from student work. We share scores on common assessments, notice patterns amongst students and/or classes, and reflect on strategies we might have used to achieve positive results. Artifact #2 shows one format we would use when presenting data to the group. This screenshot comes from our online grade book which can display data in a variety of ways.

CIP Goal #2: SMART Goal/Interventions

Artifact: SMART Goal

As we moved forward with our PLC collaborations, our team developed goals in support of increased student learning in number sense. One particular SMART goal we developed states:

“We will use common assessment data to guide the content of our intervention times so that students that pass go from 62% at standard in Numbers and Operations in October 2011 (per CDSA  rubric, #1-3), to 97% at standard in June 2012.”

The goal sheet (link inserted above) includes a list of coded students who were identified as in need of remedial intervention, a list of intervention strategies, a timeline to administer the strategies and assess progress, and data sources used to track goal progress. This artifact our goal progress as of January, 2012.


Artifact: Number Fluency PPT

As we analyzed student data during our PLC meetings, we saw a need for student practice in number fluency and quantity. We used technology to offer practice that was both engaging and repetitive, such as the PowerPoint presentation featured in the above artifact. (To reduce the size of this attachment I only included a snapshot of 6 slides.)


We are still in the process of carrying out our interventions within the PLC framework. We are monitoring student progress towards our goal that 97% of students will be at or above standard in number sense by June 2012. As we analyze our progress so far, we realize that we are within reach of this goal.

We have encountered several obstacles along the way and we will continue to reflect on them and work on how to address them in the coming year. Some of these obstacles include:

  • Need for more than 30 minutes per week for PLC planning time
  • Team time constraints relating to half day teacher schedule
  • Inadequate use of building support and administrative personnel

We acknowledge that progress has been made both in our commitment to the PLC model of collaboration and, most importantly, to student learning. We look forward to continuing this improvement process throughout the 2012-13 school year.


Viewing the Big Picture Through Systems Thinking May 15, 2012

Viewing the Big Picture Through Systems Thinking

During week 7, we discussed how steps towards school reform need to be viewed from the perspective of all components of a school system. This is referred to as Systems Thinking.  Our discussions pointed out that there are multiple layers that will be impacted by change within a school system. These layers must be considered during the planning stages of any school reform in order to anticipate possible barriers along the way.

My interest in this issue was piqued so I researched the subject of systems thinking and came upon an informative article by the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (2000). The article, titled Asking the Right Questions: A Leader’s Guide to Systems Thinking about School Improvement, explored systems thinking in-depth and described three domains within the school system. The technical domain includes the nuts and bolts of instruction such as content, how instruction is delivered, and the assessment of knowledge and skills. Another domain is the personal domain and would include the attitudes and skills of the people within the system. Components of this domain would be professional development, internal communication, school leadership, and the climate and culture of the school. The third domain is the organizational domain. This domain involves the external environment, the stakeholders, resource allocation, technology, and accountability. Breaking a school system down into these 3 components makes for a somewhat simpler process when analyzing the impact of school reform.

It has been extremely helpful for me to view the big picture of school or district wide change through these lenses. I can appreciate the difficult task that everyone in a system must take on – be it a superintendent, a principal, a teacher, or a parent – when a plan for reform in underway. I think that teacher leaders are in a unique position to be close and personal to each of the domains listed above and therefore have much to offer when the “big picture” needs to be brought back into focus.

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning. (2000). Asking the right questions: A leader’s guide to systems thinking about school improvement. Aurora, CO: Author.


Critical Friends Groups May 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — lktaylor @ 3:47 am
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I had never heard of Critical Friends Groups (CFG) until the module 6 readings.  Just the name “Critical Friends” makes it a group I want to join! It implies support for each other during stressful times.  Who doesn’t need that as a teacher? The more I learn about CFGs I am more convinced that it would be a very worthwhile endeavor for me professionally, as well as for the improvement of student learning.

I was encouraged that the frequency of CFG meetings were on an average of once per month, albeit as long as 2 hours (Zepeda, 2012). This seems like a reasonable expectation and one that would be less likely to overwhelm teachers’ schedules. Teachers are already expected to participate in weekly PLC meetings (sometimes on more than one PLC group), PGE groups, and team meetings. I wonder if CFG groups could meet outside of the school day and accumulate professional development hours? I would think that this would save money and eliminate the need for subs.

I also see CFGs as an opportunity to collaborate with teachers across grade levels and gain insight into areas that I would not otherwise become familiar with. Such an experience would be rich with different perspectives. All of this is likely to result in increased student and teacher learning.

Zepeda (2012, p. 209) states that there are five stages of CFG development. These stages are 1. Forming; 2. Storming; 3. Norming; 4.Performing; and 5. Adjourning. I would like to know if CFG membership typically remains constant from stage 1 through to stage 5?  Are new members allowed or encouraged to join a CFG after it has already been established? If so, does this disrupt the flow of the work in which a group is involved? Are CFGs ever established around a specific interest such as ELL, technology, or gifted students?  I am interested enough in this topic that I will search out teachers who are familiar with this particular type of professional development and further consider my participation.

Zepeda, S.J. (2012) Professional development: What works. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.


Team Meetings as Professional Development May 1, 2012

As I read Zepeda’s chapter on Job-Embedded Learning (2012, Chapter 6), in  I was really struck by how much sense this concept makes for teachers. I consider the many times I have attended an offsite workshop and realize that, although I benefitted from interacting with colleagues and came back to campus with a notebook full of notes, I was then faced with the questions, How do I apply this to my classroom today? How will I know that students are learning more as a result of my training? Who can offer me support and help me be accountable?

With job embedded learning, teachers are applying new skills almost as soon as they are learning them. For example, the simple act of conferring with my grade level teachers about a formative assessment in creating patterns immediately revealed that my kindergarteners were weak in identifying similarities in patterns that are made up of different objects or pictures. My colleague shared a teaching strategy she uses that supports this skill. I used it that very day and noticed measurable improvement in student learning. This whole process took less than one hour and the application of my learning was almost immediate.

I think that we as teachers may need to see professional development in a whole new way. I will take seriously the collaboration meetings I engage in with my fellow teachers and strive to treat them as valuable opportunities for effective professional development. I know now, more than ever, that it is important to incorporate norms, agendas, action items, and data analysis to our team meetings in order to reap the benefits of this type of job-embedded learning.

Zepeda (2012, pp. 126-128) lists and describes seven positive outcomes from job embedded learning. They are: enhanced reflection, increased collegiality, less isolation, more relevant learning, increased transfer of learning, support of the refinement of practice, and a common lexicon. I can honestly say that even one effective and well executed team meeting accomplishes all of this. Imagine what meetings conducted in this manner on a weekly basis could do!


Zepeda, S.J. (2012) Professional development: What works. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.


Spreading the Wealth of Professional Development April 23, 2012

During week 4 we focused on content knowledge and content pedagogy. Our readings for this week included two case studies in which teacher leaders were experiencing difficulty in their leadership roles, both of which involved working collaboratively in one content area with a select group of teachers.  One such group of teachers had been working for two years refining their practice of teaching English through classroom based coaching, yielding positive results in student learning. When it was time to bring this new learning to the rest of the teachers in the school, the literacy coach experienced push back from the teachers that were not involved in the original coaching experience. Many of them were uncomfortable at the thought of classroom visits and felt that they would be at a disadvantage since they did not have the 2 years of coaching the other teachers had (Michelson, 2007).

The other case study involved a group of teachers who were invited to work collaboratively to refine and develop K-6 Math Power Standards for their district. The district math specialist is concerned that, out of the committee invitees, only a small number are the Math Teacher Leaders that are currently represented at each school. These teachers are already familiar with the math standards as well as the need for instructional change within the district. She is making presuppositions about the negative views and lack of experience of the chosen committee members as well as anticipating that the Math Teacher Leaders at the schools will feel underappreciated and undervalued (Kane, 2007).

Both of these cases underscore the need to spread the experience of unique professional development throughout the whole staff and not just to a select group of teachers. All teachers deserve and should be encouraged to participate in valuable professional development experiences such as coaching and working on committees at the district level. Each of these case studies had teachers who were feeling left out or undervalued. In one instance, this was due to a lack of professional development experiences. In the other instance it was because they were used to being the “experts” and they felt insulted when they were not included in the committee. Perhaps these conflicts could have been avoided, or at least lessened, if these specific professional development opportunities had been available to a wider range of staff at an earlier time.

Michelson, J, (2007) Filling a leadership vacuum. Leadership Cases 2007 School Level Reform, Retrieved from  https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-755044-dt-content-rid-671378_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP.FillingLeadershipVacuum.pdf

Kane, D., (2007) Considering all voices. Leadership Cases 2007 School Level Reform, Retrieved from https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-755044-dt-content-rid-671379_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP.ConsideringAllVoices.pdf