Saturday, August 30, 2014

Professional Learning Communities...Understanding Perspective

I am so excited this year for our Professional Learning Community time each week.  We finally have a schedule that screams...COLLABORATION!!!  Everyday each grade level team has an uninterrupted common time for 50 minutes AND the best part....wait for it...it is not during lunch! AND did you hear me say...EVERYDAY! So once a week my principal and I facilitate a meeting during this time.  Right now we are focusing on what we have learned about students so far that you can not see in data, examining our current students' data, and looking at three year trends from classes we have had previously.  The goal of this is to filter out a focus from discussions and from data...giving teachers power to determine their own instructional needs as a learner and to connect this thinking to what the students need.

One of the challenges of looking at data, while keeping students in mind, is being uncomfortable.  As a literacy coach, I have found that by grounding thinking in a resource or in student examples, this takes the focus off the teacher and they become more comfortable in sharing thoughts that are more vulnerable and honest.  To open one of our PLC times, we placed a picture at every seat.  As the teachers walked in, immediately they began to pick their seat by the picture they connected too.  Immediately you saw the teacher hat come off and the learner hat come on.  In order to work together and move forward, we wanted to understand quickly the journey the teachers had been on in regards to data.  We asked the teachers to share a data thought, data feeling, or data connection to the picture they were sitting in front of.  I have known that no one reads a book the same way...so that has to apply to data right? There is no right way, correct way, your way, or my way in collaboration.  The more we share our journeys and gain perspective and respect for our journeys, the more energy we will have to immerse ourselves in something passionate.

So...look at the pictures...what data feeling, thought, or experience comes to your mind?
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"Sometimes after looking at how my students performed on a state test, there is always that one student that I can not get off my mind.  Did I do enough? What did I miss?"

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"This police officer is a woman.  We need to remember not to stereotype gender roles when looking at data."

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"Every child is on a road to grow a year for a year.  It makes me sad that for some students that whole road is uphill."

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"It is easy to get pulled in to data.  Remember to see the light."

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"I need this collaboration time with everyone.  Sometimes I feel like I am on an island."
After gaining perspective and for some...blowing off steam :), we then appreciated our journeys as a group.  We made instructional timelines to see our journeys so while we examine our data we can refer to the context in which the data occurred.  What fun to hear my colleagues acknowledge the amazing journeys they have been on...oh the places we can go!



Both of these activities gave us permission to be who we are, appreciate our work, and become grounded to make decisions for our PLC times this year!  Did I already share that I work with amazing teachers??? :)