Saturday, October 5, 2013

Becoming an Expert Teacher is a Lesson in GRIT

   TESSing Looks a Whole Lot Like PMSing
Becoming an expert teacher is not a gift bestowed on a chosen few but
a journey through a challenging, thorny pathway 
that requires constant pruning.
P. Mielke and T. Frontier, ASCD, Nov 2012

                Charlotte Danielson is on everyone’s radar here in the beautiful state of Arkansas.  Nationally, over 20 states have adopted her Framework of Teaching for the formal evaluations of teachers. Ironically and it needs to be noted, Danielson never meant for the framework to be used as an evaluative tool. Her intent was to create 
“a common language” resulting in “a shared understanding” of what effective teaching looks like. Much needed and completely in sync with Common Core standards. 

               Implementation is going to be a lesson in Grit.  In many schools TESS (Teacher Evaluation Support System) has teachers checking calendars and counting years, bursting into tears at unexpected moments, inventing new vocabulary (non academic), and feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed.  Not just teachers, principals are feeling it too since the burden has been dumped onto their laps. One administrator in a training, slipped out the door, re-entered the room later to announce she was retiring.

               Teacher evaluation is just one more thing—but it is a mountain-size one more thing to deal with and to manage. I know this to be true. I was well trained (over time and with annual recalibration sessions) to serve as a Praxis III Assessor for the state of Arkansas. I know first hand the careful documentation and hours, make that lots of hours, going into one teacher's observation and the detailed written evaluation. Administrators don't have the time. I switched college preservice juniors and seniors for 2nd graders my last two years in teaching. As a result of re-entering public schools I know firsthand what it feels like to have too many changes thrown at you at one time without the proper training. It's no one's fault...we can't point fingers. I believe it's based upon our well-intentioned efforts to keep pace. We're moving so fast and taking on so much so quickly in our efforts to keep up with the information and momentum of the 21st century.

Managing the Beast... 

My offerings to you

              First things first. The 2013 Danielson's framework can be downloaded here—Load your ink jets for 113 pages.  This newest edition is aligned to CCSS; however, Danielson has made very few revisions from her early edition.

               Kate Glass, co-founder of CoreStand (see more below) writes in reference to Charlotte Danielson's framework, and being evaluated:

" can’t fake it with one spectacular lesson.  Pulling a rabbit out of your hat or tap dancing in front of your class will simply not cut’ll have to have habits of learning set in place long before an administrator walks in your door. You’ll have to know your students well and your instruction will have to reflect this knowledge.  In short, the pedagogical integrity you bring to the class day in and day out should be obvious to anyone who drops in on any given day."

               The big idea here is for our students to be tooled with both critical thinking skills demanded by the CCSS along with the student-centered instruction required by the Charlotte Danielson teaching framework. If these two pieces are firmly in place our students will succeed no matter what subject we are teaching.

Teaching strategies are not equal. More than 20 years ago Classroom Instruction that Works was published. High yield strategies that could positively affect student achievement were identified and quantified. 

In Visible Learning for Teachers (2012) John Hattie ranks 150 influences on student learning from most powerful to least powerful.
I know you are dying to find out what made the top ten? Check out the list here.

               Arkansas's goal for teachers is to translate Hattie's research directly into all K-12 classroom teaching aided by TESS, the work of Jane Pollack (AMAZING), and the professional development options that are earnestly and currently being developed. The ultimate goal of TESS is not meant to be punitive in any way, but rather to support teachers in their quest for self improvement centered on research proven best practices.

               You know you're a teacher if. . . you get tingly and goose-bumpy when you discover an amazing classroom resource online. With so much new being thrown at you what's a teacher supposed to do?  With lightening speed all of us grab lesson plans from websites and TPT to adapt them for our students. There's no time for extensive planning.

             1+1=3 Yesterday, I stumbled across the infographic to your right from CoreStand. Five Degrees to Becoming a Common Core Ninja represents this company's philosophy built around powerful collaborative lesson planning.  Since most of us are doing CCSS in the US why don't we pool our efforts, collaborate to grow ideas and build high interest lessons that everyone can use. CoreStand provides a full range of services both free and paid to accomplish this. Check it out. I landed on  their website for my Danielson search and got side-tracked with close reading. Big surprise. Right :)

              Last night I downloaded and read their ebook The Ninja's Guide to the Common Core Standards. FREE  Super good, short, and easy to read. You will love it. You can also link to it on my Pinterest Common Core board.

So much information available. I hope you have time to click on some of the links. A shout out to all who gave me feedback on the Close Reading ABC's. There is another ABC's list in the making. Hope today's info helps and Happy Saturday.

Nerdy News

I believe collaborative lesson planning is going to take center stage in our professional development. A couple weeks ago I read Common Core Unit By Unit by Cheryl Becker Dobbertin in one sitting. It made a huge impression and continues to haunt my thinking. This book would make a perfect book talk for PLC's.

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