Monday, August 1, 2016

School Culture and Classroom Walkthroughs

For some time now, I've considered the value of classroom walkthroughs for improving learning for all of our students. More recently, though, I've been thinking about the utility of the classroom walkthrough to positively influence school culture. As a complement to both the formal and informal classroom observations that occur in schools every day, the walkthrough can provide practitioners with more data to inform their practice. School leaders can then use these data to spark conversations and build trust with the instructional staff, as well as to focus on the many positive components of teaching and learning. I think classroom walkthrough data can have a substantial influence on positive school culture, working towards achieving school goals, and improving learning for all students.

In a recent paper, Garza, Ovando, and O'Doherty (2016) discuss two distinct approaches to the classroom walkthrough: Bureaucratic and Collaborative (you can access this paper here). To summarize, in the bureaucratic approach, the school leader conducts the classroom walkthrough independent of any input, shares the information, and directs the plan of action with the teaching staff. Conversely, in the collaborative approach, teachers work with school leaders to collect and analyze walkthrough data, reflect on their meaning, and develop plans for professional learning and growth. Based on my experiences as a school leader, I think both approaches to the classroom walkthrough have value in positively influencing school culture, working towards achieving school goals, and improving learning for all students.

I'm interested in your perspective, so please consider the following:

  1. Given these two distinct approaches to the classroom walkthrough, as well as the other issues related to the classroom walkthrough presented by Garza, Ovando, and O'Doherty (2016), do you think one lends itself to positively influence school culture more than the other?
  2. Can you foresee a specific school culture that might be better addressed by embracing the other approach to the classroom walkthrough? 
Please share your thoughts.

Garza, R., Ovando, M., & O'Doherty, A. (2016). Aspiring school leaders' perceptions of the walkthrough observation. International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, 11(1), 156-173.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Professional Learning: #PSCchat for 3/7/16

We had a great discussion about Professional Learning during last night's #PSCchat. You can review the archive here.

Some key takeaways from this chat include:

  • Twitter, edcamps, and blogs are "go-to" sources of Professional Learning for many. Professional conferences and school/district workshops are also useful opportunities to engage in Professional Learning. In addition to these, one of my personal "go-to" sources is Reflective Practice.
  • Many rely on modeling and engaging in conversations about Professional Learning opportunities as a means to get colleagues involved in more sustained learning. Several participants mentioned it is often difficult to get other educators to move beyond those required workshops/in-services. Digital badges was mentioned as one way to possibly motivate others to seek out additional learning opportunities beyond those required by schools.
  • Participants feel that more professional learning opportunities are needed with regard to the following topics: Poverty, Technology, LGBT issues, Differentiation, Guided Reading, Communication, Self-Harm, Suicide, Abuse. 
I believe it is our duty as educators to continually engage in Professional Learning to provide our students with quality experiences at school every day. As we grow professionally, we can improve learning for all of our students.
Please share your thoughts about Professional Learning to keep this conversation going.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Reflecting on #Edscape15

I was hoping yesterday would be a great day of learning. I spent a Saturday with people who I've met over the years via @twitter, as well as with local colleagues discussing  how we can modify our practice to improve learning for all of our students. +Pernille Ripp  focused her keynote on the importance of student choice and voice in the classroom. She certainly inspired many to rethink how they manage their classroom's, as I overheard conversations throughout the day discussing changes that are coming.

Following the keynote, I attended a session on Google Classroom that was facilitated by +Alexa Schlechter and @robpennington. I picked up several strategies on how I can use Google Classroom to streamline my school leadership practice. Before lunch, @whalen discussed the importance of "stopping the madness" when using any presentation software, especially when we're teaching our students to present content. I know I will put a few of Dan's ideas into practice.

Afternoon sessions included a talk by @tbresnahan1 about the use of specific technology applications to improve student engagement. Tom kept all attendees busy during this session, it was much more than a talk, as he modeled what he expects from the teachers in his school. And he required us to do it! During the last session of the day +Sarahi Samano and @mskrystenthomas presented their work on how they prepare their current Hispanic elementary students for college and career. It was awesome to see these elementary educators share how they use various technologies to prepare their students for secondary school and beyond. I'm lucky to work with both everyday.

Yesterday was the third consecutive Edscape Conference that I attended, and for me, it was the best. I had a hard time deciding which sessions to attend, because so many seemed to offer things that I could take back to my school and students. In the end, the sessions I attended gave me several practical strategies that I know will make me better on Monday. So, yeah...yesterday was a great day of learning.