Site Meter Josh's Blog: Orlando, day 4

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Orlando, day 4

Today was a great day at the GE College Bound District Program conference. We attended different sessions on a variety of subjects, such as PLC's, math standards, leadership practices and coaching. I attended a session on the role of Teacher's Unions in driving instructional reform, facilitated by Pat Dolan. Some of you may have met Pat, as he's been working with Stamford for the past few years. Pat's thoughts were intriguing, and I can't relate all of them in this space, but I was left with a few questions that I'd like to share. One is around data. I'm not referring to state test data. I'm thinking about data that helps us understand what's "really happening" in schools and classrooms, and with individuals. I'm constantly told about something that happened, or something that someone is upset about and I don't always have a way to verify it or understand the full context. So how do we develop a way to get good information about what's "really happening" that we can then act on?

Another question I have is about standards of practice. It seems to me that we'd avoid a lot of conflict if we had explicit standards of practice regarding teaching and learning. We all know good instruction when we see it, but have we all agreed that X,Y and Z equal excellent instruction? I think that's an important area of work for us to collaborate on. Yesterday we heard Mike Rutherford talk ( about 5 things that great teachers do. He described the set of practices that great teachers use to improve student achievement. Most of them are common sense, and I've certainly seen wonderful examples throughout the Stamford Public Schools. I wonder if we can all agree on what excellent teaching is for us in Stamford, and then use that as an anchor for our work.

Tomorrow we'll be meeting as a team to discuss the implications for our work and communication strategies. After that I'm going on vacation with my family for two weeks. I'll be sure to post some more when I return. Please let me know what you think!!


Darlene said...

Interesting! I am looking forward to hearing more about the conference upon your return from vacation.
Darlene M. Desmond

Anonymous said...

i would like to see some of this work in our schools. we have to find a way for teachers to buy into this.

Mr said...

Experiential learning transcends textbook knowledge by inviting the learner, in this case the teacher, to “function” or take an active role in the process. I have experienced what good teachers have done in the past by observing class lessons (lecture/discussions, labs, hands-on activities) of special interest to improving delivery/assessment in my classroom. On many occasions, I have observed teachers during my non-instructional time for this purpose. When this action is part of pre and post discussions among colleagues, the process becomes meaningful for both parties. By taking part in this activity, I think that we will be better able to see what good teachers are doing.

Kim Avdek said...

I think the conference objectives are admirable but I sense a keen disconnect between theory at your level and application at the local level. My experiences with the school system seem to be stunted at the individual school level and I am amazed that you hear anything, even anecdotes. Our schools seem to be more concerned with tamping down problems than really addressing and stemming some of the issues that plague the day-to-day life at school. Perhaps some parent focus groups or discussions that are not so exclusive as last year's might offer data and ideas that can make some real differences.