Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Learning Program Evolution: What will you revise or change this year?

What I like best about teaching and learning is the process of evolving learning programs toward better and better service to children. I love to synthesize research, students' needs and interests, and the system/state standards/goals to better what my team and I can do at school.

To date, some of that evolution has resulted in promising change including the movement to a shared teaching model. This is the best model I've worked in throughout my career since taking a team approach has meant greater camaraderie and collaboration with regard to serving children, forwarding a top-notch teaching learning program, and eradicating the isolation and single-minded focus of the one-teacher-one-classroom approach.

Also, the movement to collaboration with outside agencies has been positive. Our collaboration with Massachusetts' Audubon Drumlin Farm naturalists and educators has elevated our standards-based environmental education program. This year, the state has invited us into a program evaluation pilot which will enrich this study as well.

And, efforts to add more hands-on field studies and in-house programs have further benefitted the teaching/learning experiences. Similarly improving the learning environment by replacing desks with wonderful tables and adding lots of comfy chairs and one-to-one computers have been advantageous. And, improving the weekly schedule has created a better flow for optimal learning and teaching.

Students benefit from inclusive, research-based, collaborative, student-centered evolution in schools, and this evolutionary process when done well makes teaching and learning the successful, enjoyable craft that it can be.

As I think of these changes, I am also thinking about the changes we hope to foster in the year ahead--changes that require good collaboration, research, problem solving, and the risk of trying something new.

This year I hope to work with colleagues to foster the following changes:
  • Addition of performance tasks in math. These tasks will provide students with a process-approach to math learning and problem solving that begins with a meaningful, open-ended math problem that students tackle in a myriad of personalized ways. There is a step-by-step scaffolding of the effort that includes easier-to-more-difficult tasks, check-in points with peers and educators, editing, more problem solving, final presentations and share. The goals of this movement is to deepen math teaching and learning, add greater collaboration, foster positive perseverance, and move towards student mastery--a kind of mastery where students are able to apply, demonstrate, and discuss concepts with meaning, engagement, and accuracy. Fortunately I am working with an awesome team who are invested in this process as well.
  • Revising math RTI. Many years ago we put an RTI (Response to Intervention) process into the schedule. In many ways it has been successful, however, I believe it is ready for revision and I hope that colleagues and administrators will work with our team to revise this process for better effect this year. 
  • Greater culturally relevant and brain-friendly teaching and learning. Using Zaretta Hammond's book as a guide, I hope to elevate our ability to teach in a culturally relevant and brain-friendly ways.
  • Improving our environmental education efforts in conjunction with the MA Department of Education program evaluation pilot and collaboration with Drumlin Farm's naturalist coach. 
There's much to do to make this evolution a reality. 

How will you evolve your teaching/learning program this year? What are your priorities? I'm curious.