In my last post I focused on my five non-negotiables of professional development: plan with the end in mind, model best practice, slide design counts, electronically available resources, and know your audience before, ask for feedback after. In an attempt to model best practice with my writing, I am going to dive deeper into these aforementioned points (less is more), rather than simply piling on more non-negotiables (mile-wide, inch deep).
Running any form of professional development can be a daunting task, whether it is at the district level, at a conference, etc. At the beginning of the planning process, facilitators often don’t have much more than a blank slate and a job such as, “You have one hour to teach your audience about [insert trendy topic here].” I have been leading professional development for a handful of years, and I have found that preparing with certain non-negotiables in mind helps to (1) provide me with a solid direction, and (2) assist in making my sessions that much more effective.
Here are my professional development non-negotiables:
For my latest district professional development day I conducted a one-hour presentation on the topic of student opportunities to respond, which focuses on how long each student has to be actively engaged in order to “make it through” the current lesson.
Featured is the slide deck that I created for the presentation, and I used Total Participation Techniques by Persida and William Himmele as the primary resource for my work. According to the book, “Total Participation Techniques (TPTs) are teaching techniques that allow for all students to demonstrate, at the same time, active participation and cognitive engagement in the topic being studied.” Here is a quick overview of some of the slides that are not entirely self-explanatory:
I recently created a Twitter 101 slide deck to be used at schools, conferences, etc. The intended audience is educators with little to no experience with Twitter, and the presentation should last 45 minutes to an hour. Here is a quick overview of some of the slides that are not entirely self-explanatory:
My current school district is about to begin the process of examining our standards-based report cards, particularly at the elementary level. When I was made aware of this initiative, I had just finished reading Fair Isn’t Always Equal by Rick Wormeli and How to Grade for Learning by Ken O’Connor, and I was in the process of making my way through Developing Standards-Based Report Cards by Thomas Guskey and Jane Bailey. Without hesitation, I highly recommend all three. While one of my previous posts is based on Wormeli’s book, this post is based mostly on the work of Guskey and Bailey. (Inspiration from O’Connor is sprinkled throughout both, and I will dedicate more time to his book in the future.) I should also mention that the contents of each book are not mutually exclusive, as there is definitely a great deal of overlap when discussing assessing and grading in the standards-based classroom. However, Wormeli tends to focus more on daily instruction, while Guskey and Bailey provide more research for standards-based report cards.
Based on my reading and highlighting, here are four points to consider when creating or revising standards-based report cards:
In Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson discusses the coffeehouse model of creativity and how “employees who primarily shared information with people in their own division had a harder time coming up with useful suggestions…when measured against employees who maintained active links to a more diverse group.” Johnson goes on to cite examples regarding how “many of history’s great innovators managed to build a cross-disciplinary coffeehouse environment within their own private work routines.”
Let’s take a look at how Johnson’s research can be applied to education by exploring five simple ways to diversify the types of people in any given committee or meeting:
While on holiday vacation in Florida, a friend emailed me and asked for my top ten education books. Here is how I responded, verbatim. Please keep in mind that this list was created off the top of my head (so I may have missed a few), and the books are presented in no particular order.
Digital Leadership can serve as inspiration and an effective starting point for administrators and/or teachers who have realized that they need to (1) infuse their practice with more progressive techniques or (2) entirely revamp their work to support in providing students with more contemporary and relevant learning experiences. Also, if you find yourself working in a district where administrators simply do not “get it,” I would highly recommend Digital Leadership as an administrative book study in order to stimulate conversation in regards to how the district can make the shift from where it is to where it needs to be.
As a classroom teacher, it can sometimes feel as if district administrators belong to an exclusive club in which they are secretly made aware of all the organization’s inner workings while everyone else is left in the dark. Sometimes this exclusive club might meet for closed-door professional development sessions, and the specific details of what they learn usually turn out to be a bit fuzzy for those not present. Yes, attendees are supposed to pass along the information to their teachers, the ones who interact with students on a daily basis. However, sometimes the facts get awfully distorted as they make their way through multiple channels, eventually reaching the intended audience (if the audience is reached at all).
To help in avoiding this conundrum, session facilitators should embed into administrator professional development explicit procedures for the learning to reach teachers and ultimately affect students in the most positive ways possible. Here are five options that leaders can consider when paving this smooth path along which information can travel:
I have always thought that assessing and grading is the one area in which there is the widest gap between research and what is actually taking place in classrooms (with my classroom having not been the exception). Over the past few days I finally decided to read through Rick Wormeli’s Fair Isn’t Always Equal. This book does a tremendous job of touching upon all of the topic’s key points without getting too technical. I could definitely see this resource being used for a teacher and/or administrator book study. You can read it cover to cover, or you can easily just dive into certain chapters to target areas of interest.
After reading the book, here are five changes that I would make to my assessing and grading procedures if I were to return to the classroom as a teacher.