For several years when I was in the high school classroom, teaching in a steady, status-quo kind of way (if I’m honest about it), I thought I was doing exactly as I should. Not gonna go too much out of the box, not gonna vary too much for the sake of constancy for the students, not gonna get wild and crazy so as to not appear unprepared for teaching.
Slowly, I matured in my thinking. I continued to read and learn, and I worked to apply new learning in my classroom, but nothing too out there. I worked with colleagues off and on but in a “department meeting” kind of way. Finally, I reached a point where I was able to study for a doctorate in education, based on my interest in effective teaming. Lo and behold, when I began to study the literature about collaborative teams and what effective teams think and do to improve learning for students, I realized I’d been missing the boat.
I don’t have my early teaching years to do over again, but now as a leader of learning for adult educators, I’ve come to realize–and witness–how taking intellectual risk causes growth in educators which can translate to improved instruction for students.
This kind of intellectual risk comes in the form of having collaborative, substantive conversations around artifacts of the classroom, such as student work, tasks or assessments of some kind, or video clips of instruction. It is real risk taking to bring artifacts from one’s own classroom and have them scored collaboratively and discussed against established criteria, using a protocol and process. It takes becoming vulnerable in front of trusted colleagues–this is where authentic risk-taking comes into play.
I’d be pleased to have you join me at the 2017 Assessment Training Institute Summer Conference in my breakout session called “Holding Collaborative Conversations around Classroom Artifacts” on either Monday, July 10, 2:45-4:00, or Tuesday, July 11, 1:15-2:30. We’ll talk about research-based characteristics of collaborative teams. We’ll discuss what practices and protocols can work. We’ll talk about what kind of standards-based criteria or scales of learning we can use when discussing artifacts. Then we’ll actually do some hands-on practice with some provided classroom artifacts and criteria so participants understand the protocols and process. If they wish, participants are encouraged to bring 5-6 copies of a single piece of anonymous student work and its corresponding criteria against which a team might score and discuss. You’ll go back to your school with ideas, tools, and hands-on practice of how a process like this might work for you and your colleagues.
Our session will address the following learning targets:
- Examine and critique collaborative team practices that leverage professional learning time effectively and support consistency of practice across a school or district
- Understand that relational trust is essential for intellectual risk taking, and intellectual risk taking and reflection are essential for growth
- Analyze classroom artifacts against criteria using scoring and discussion protocols
- Conduct in-depth discussion over artifacts and practices
Hope you’ll join me for some great conversation!
Becca Lindahl earned her doctorate in administrator leadership in teaching and learning from Walden University. She currently is a Professional Learning & Leadership Consultant with Heartland AEA 11, a mid-level state educational agency in Iowa whose consultants work side by side with central Iowa teachers and administrators. Becca supports K-12 educators in accredited public and nonpublic schools as they strive to implement Iowa Core/Common Core and national standards. This support includes helping districts and schools, through system-level change, become assessment literate and implement sound standards-based grading and reporting practices. Becca also helps schools put into action effective collaborative teaming practices within a larger professional learning community. As well, she helps lead systems-level work in adult learning.
Before supporting schools in Heartland, Becca was a central Iowa high school French, English, and Spanish teacher for 17 years. From there she became a high school principal in central Wisconsin, and then, upon moving back to central Iowa, she became a K-12 curriculum leader for several years. She brings to her consultant’s role the many hats she’s worn and a passion for supporting educators as they do the hard work of continuous improvement for students.