Google+ Badge

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

What Is Your Teaching/Learning Role as the Education Landscape Changes?

A few years ago I was fully invested in the question, What is your role?

Now, that answer is much more apparent?

District goal setting, State standards, evaluation requirements, and CCSS have defined my role with greater clarity.

According to CCSS, State, and district standards, my role is to teach the math and science standards in ways that every child reaches mastery.

I do prefer this charge to days of old when the expectations for my work included more topics and less definition as I can dig into these standards in rich and dynamic ways with students.

This greater definition prompts me to change routines, classroom arrangement, and study schedules.

For example, the room is set up for more small group work, problem solving, and investigation.  The routines have been created to support dynamic math and science study and practice, and my studies are focused on forwarding math and science knowledge, concept, and skill in conjunction with learning to learn skills and knowledge as well as students' interests and passions.

My focus for future study and investigation has changed too. Learning more about the following areas will boost my ability to serve students well:
  • Environmental Study
  • The tools and activities of science exploration and study.
  • Connections with local nature preserves, museums, and science centers.
  • Knowledge and use of multiple online math/science platforms.
  • Attendance at science/math conferences, seminars, and meetings.
  • Study and understanding the science and math standards with depth.
  • Designing invigorating learning experiences in these areas with and for students.
My hope is that as our roles become more defined, the supports will continue to develop to accommodate our efforts in positive ways as well including:
  • skilled assistance (growth of the teaching assistant role with regard to the standards, technology, current teaching methods and information, and compensation)
  • time for planning and meeting (continued growth of RTI, PLC, and planning time)
  • apt tools including online/offline resources for teaching well and more fluid systems for attaining needed tools and equipment (continued foundation support, year-long purchasing options, time to research and acquire the best tools for learning, investigation)
  • adequate facilities (the development of STEAM labs at elementary school, and outdoor education efforts)
  • time and focus on collective goal setting and follow-up activity.
As I stood back yesterday and thought about our system efforts and goals, I realized that there have been many positive changes including the following:
  • Yesterday, the math coach invited our teaching team to work together to plan for an upcoming unit on fractions. The focus and organization of the learning time was well orchestrated and our share fruitful with regard to teaching students well. This is one example of the kind of efforts being put in place to forward our efforts. 
  • Later in the year, leaders will come to our school to observe our collective efforts with regard to developing students' stamina and perseverance. Their observations will promote greater growth for our learning/teaching community. 
  • Leaders will also visit our PLCs to observe the ways we use data to target student teaching/learning efforts. Their visit will prompt good discussion amongst our PLC team with regard to these efforts. 
  • Last summer protocols were created to lead our RTI Math efforts and elementary system-wide curriculum maps and resources for math were put online for ready reference--a resource I look to often. 
  • Further this summer, educators in our system will pool their resources and gain new resources during a system-wide STEAM Institute open to educators in Wayland and beyond.  
  • Yesterday, a number of educators shared their learning from the recent MassCUE conference in a "smackdown" like fashion to spread the knowledge.
I'm sure that I could list many more positive initiatives, initiatives that signal system-wide growth and promise.

Even communication streams have increased which has served to focus our collegial conversation and efforts. This communication serves to inspire our work in that we are all learning of change and initiatives at the same time rather than through informal channels such as hallway conversation and lunchroom talk. 

Recently our State governor Deval Patrick mentioned that he had to learn about the value of repetition when it comes to sharing the good news or the message of an organization. I think greater communication that includes both announcements and inspirational anecdotes, quotes, and forward thinking will serve to help our organization move with even greater strength and effect. 

As a critical thinker it's important to stop and recognize the good that is happening. I'm fortunate to work in a dynamic system that profits from tremendous community support and investment. And as always, it's my ambition to fulfill my role with a focus on what's best for each and every student with regard to my teaching role definition both specific and broad. Onward.