A common thought from the trenches is, “What the heck do you guys at the district office do all day?” I know, when I was in the trenches, this thought would occur on occasion.
In our district, we have the great opportunity to write monthly columns for our local newspaper. Here’s my latest column, describing some of what the heck we do all day.
“One of the major roles of our Teaching-Learning-Innovation (TLI) department is providing quality professional learning opportunities for a variety of our educators. Here are three recent examples. First, Elaine Smith, Assistant Director of TLI, at the request of the educators at SLMS, developed and shared learning about differentiated instruction for students. This is an example of learning the educators wanted at their school.
(Educators at SLMS)
Second, Elaine and I have designed a series of induction learning sessions for all of our ‘New to Fife’ teachers. We have focused the learning and work on our district’s adopted instructional framework. We use the Center For Educational Leadership’s framework, from the University of Washington. Its acronym is CEL. It focuses on 5 dimensions of teaching and learning: Purpose, Student Engagement, Curriculum/Pedagogy, Assessment for Student Learning, and Classroom Environment/Culture. Our last session was on assessment for student learning, specifically formative assessment. Checking kids’ understanding in the middle of the learning to ascertain where they are in relationship to what teachers need them to be learning, and making in the moment instructional adjustments.
Third, we conducted a book study with all of our building administrators, using the book Innovator’s Mindset, by George Couros. This book has had the most profound impact on my professional learning in my 33 year career in Fife. For our leaders, we utilized a learning strategy called ‘The World Cafe’. With this strategy, we create 3 ‘courses’ for the learners. Each course has a variety of discussion questions on the ‘menu’ from which our learners can choose. It was a spectacular success.
The most important point of all this work is that our learning is ongoing. As educators, we don’t shut down our learning the minute we graduate from college. We believe in the idea that, “Who dares to teach, must never cease to learn.” -John Cotton Dana”