Wednesday mornings are sacred. I wake up extra early to meet with a group of friends to reflect and blog. However, my laptop was sitting on my desk at school. I had a few options. I actually thought about skipping it. I didn't have time to run by school, and who wants to write without a laptop? I could blog on my phone, but it would be tedious and hard on my thumbs. And then I realized, I could reflect on paper. Yes, paper!
There is a huge difference between teaching writing and assigning writing. At Beechwood, we use the Writers Workshop model to teach writing at our school. We've been implementing for at least 4 years now. Today was a staff development day where we hired experts in this field to expand our "horizons of observation." As we become expert in our practices, we need to find those people who are beyond our current level to serve as mentors.
One of my big learnings from today, was that we need to be writers ourselves in order to truly understand the tools of the craft. We must model both in our daily lives as well as in our classrooms.
At Beechwood, we have amazing professional teams that collaborate beautifully. At most grade levels, our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) have gone from curriculum planning to a focus on student learning. So, if our goal is to constantly learn and improve, how do we take this signature practice to the next level? Now that the Dufour Model of PLC's is part of our school culture, at what point do I trust that the model will happen without obtrusive accountability measures?
I have found this tool to be incredibly helpful in reinforcing and reflecting upon the integrity of our teams. I have used it as a "pre-test" and a "post-test" to track growth of our implementation by team. Critical Issues for Team Consideration
I love the beginning of the school year. We as educators get a chance to reinvent ourselves again and again. As I reflect on years past, I notice a pattern that I definitely need to break. In the beginning of the year, I am ever-so-good at making the "daily rounds". Every classroom, every day is my motto through to October. Then, without fail, classroom visits seem to taper off. Why is that? I could make up excuses about the pace of the school year, the unending onslaught of reports due, and the pile of paperwork that I won't see the bottom of until June. Each of these would be completely valid.