I so appreciate the fact that our district this year is focusing on really trying to make our PLC and PD time productive and meaningful for all of our teachers. We are finally having K-12 conversations around instruction and coherence of content, it is an exciting change! As we talked yesterday, I continue to realize how difficult it is to put systems in place that support teacher learning that, in turn, impact student learning experiences in the classroom.
All morning we discussed things such as:
- where we (as teachers, schools and districts) are in terms of understanding the standards
- how teachers are using standards in planning
- how we are currently assessing those standards
- student awareness of the standards
- how we are reflecting on our teaching
…etc. All very important things.
We then talked about how we improve upon where we are and necessary structures to make improvements happen. In that discussion, I heard these types of things…
- Teacher ownership because they see the need for change
- Small changes
- Have a plan
- District dedication of time to the effort (PD days)
- Less mandates
- Admin role
…etc. Again, all very important conversations to have.
Then we watched this clip:
The question, “What’s Your Leaf?” was posed. What do we see as the biggest obstacle in our way of growth/change? I can list a number of things that I would anticipate are justified obstacles for many teachers, however I keep coming back to one thing….Fear. I see fear as the leaf. Fear of being vulnerable, fear of opening up classrooms, fear of exposing what we don’t know, fear of repercussions of mistakes…etc.
So, how do we truly make change and improve teaching and learning?
Make our schools a safe place for teachers as we try to make them for students.
I would love to see schools be more like the blogs I read and conversations happening on Twitter. I want teachers to feel they have a voice and have important things to say. I want the conversations among teachers during the day to be about content, teaching, student work. I want them to challenge each other’s thinking and not be ok to always agree to disagree.
Someone recently asked me how I became so openly reflective about my own teaching and the answer is simple…I realized a had a voice, people were interested in what I was saying and I finally became ok with not knowing. It is hard to be vulnerable in teaching because it is such a personal thing for us, our job is not just a job, it is us.
My goal this year in working with teachers is first and foremost creating a safe place where math conversations around teaching and learning are the norm. Where we can be comfortable saying “I don’t know” and it is ok and there are no negative repercussions.
Nicely said Kristin. You share the same hopes and goals I have for myself and teachers I support. These goals are attainable when grade levels, schools, districts receive similar support to what you and your teachers are getting at Cape Henlopen. Some times we have to start the shift ourselves, alone with support from outside resources, another colleague, a grade level. We – leaders and teachers – also have the power to start the journey for ourselves if we can create learning communities where we can share and support what we know and what we don’t know “yet” about students, curriculum, personal math content, etc. Change often starts with small steps from individuals… as you have done in your MathMindBlog. Thank you for sharing your journey and inspiring others to do the same.
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Thank you so much Cynthia! Wouldnt it be wonderful if we had the same growth mindset with teachers as we want them to have for students?!? It is like you said, we are all on our own journey! I look forward to chatting with you in person again sometime soon! Let me know if you are ever popping into Delaware!!