Sunday, May 31, 2009

From Good to GREAT

In an article entitled "The Missing Piece of the Puzzle in Professional Development," the author Kevin Washburn, Ed.D. ends with "One final note: a coach can only be helpful to the degree that a teacher welcomes the dialogue. It never feels comfortable to have a colleague observing our instruction because we think the focus is on what we’re doing wrong. A great coach will work for your success and celebrate your success. Let’s welcome such input. As we grow, our teaching improves. As our teaching improves, our students’ learning increases. And that’s a piece we all want in place."
I was barely getting started into my coaching journey and now I've come to a T in the road, contemplating what would have happened if the coaching journey had been "The Road Not Taken." Ultimately, I would be so much the poorer. I wouldn't have verified what I always knew to be true: West teachers have endless talents to share, but too little time and opportunity to share them. So let me challenge you once again to make the time. Visit a colleague's classroom at least once a month in the year to come to continue our journey from good to great. Here are some examples of what you might find:
Susi, Ty N., Damien, and Shawn will be promoting fitness via the gradual release of responsibililty model of instruction - GRM. Lane, Micah, Janet and Terra will be facilitating student role play to bolster them against the onslaught of drugs, alcohol and other teen social pressures. Dennis and his crew - Judy, Melissa, Chris, Carolyn, Jackie, and Teri - will be preparing their students to make sense of and choices in the wider world through daily news discussions. Lynne, Cynthia and Teena will be helping students apply study skills to their core classes and make a connection (academic word of the week) to the world beyond. (Lynne's students under Teena's guidance serve a large following in the Wake Up Cafe just before the first bell.) (Cynthia's students word process letters to troops in Afghanistan.) Others working one-on-one to secure this link include Jan, Janice, Jacquie, Jim, Jude, Taylor, Ted, Bryan and Ann. Teresia will be helping students write stories with at least three incidents. Michelle will be using WIKIS and BLOGS to facilitate teamwork in her careers class. (Go to and enter code E6668EW46 to try out this wiki. Enter yourself as a student and alert me that you did at . I'd like to try it out.)
JD will be taking students through the writing process with a focus on ideas and organization. On the side, he'll be organizing another baseball trip to Arizona. Ingrid and crew - Leigh, Jeanette, Jeff, Gina, Meagan and Doris - will be playing games and using visuals to differentiate instruction. Nancy will be preparing German students for their summer exchange to Germany via vocabulary flashcards web site; Christy's students will be listening to authentic French language via IPODs (and Christy's instruction) and planning for a real trip to France. (If you want to go but can't afford it, try the virtual Eiffel Tower). Jesse and Daryl will be emphasizing the meaning of lyrics and the songs of the heart through musical expression. (See and ) Lori V. will be simulating a court case with Twelve Angry Men on the jury. Drew will be in court with twelve + happy students winning their mock trial. Alissa will be guiding Park's forensic students in sketching criminals from witness/victim descriptions. Park will be guiding his class to use his BLOG to find makeup assignments and handouts (see BLOGS I am following below.) Scott W. will be thinking aloud about American foreign policy leading up to WWII. Kappy will be thinking aloud about estimating solutions for algebra problems. Ike's and Brian's marching band will "float"as a single unit to the top every time. (Watch them from a vantage point where you can't see their feet - they float!) (I finally got a snapshot of Ike.)
Lucy will be demonstrating childlike poses for her photographers and how to create a stunning photo essay. Barb and Brenda will "Teach With [their]Strengths." (Buy this book by Liesveld and Miller and discover your strengths.) They will be inspiring students to discover their artistic potential to display in our halls and touch our minds and hearts." Bob will be signing instructions, new words and phrases in ASL with all students signing happily along. Estella will be tapping student comprehension through telling and acting out stories in Spanish. Mari 's students will be using literacy strategies for comprehending Spanish while Mary's students will be using literacy strategies for comprehending English (Say Something). Karen's students will be using literacy strategies to research current topics as per Bryan's insightful powerpoint. Jay B. will be using SODAS (situation, options, disadvantages, advantages, solutions) to enhance decision-making skills in day-to-day living, with support from Dan, Josh, Sarah, Elaine, Carissa and Pamella. Jason's students will be using Venn diagrams to compare such things as temporary vs permanent effects of drugs in English and Carlos' students will be using such things as food ads to compare foods and prices in Spanish. Ressi, Susan and Barb B. will have books displayed in rain gutter shelves - cover side out - per research to promote reading for enjoyment - thanks to grants received. Pattie will be sitting atop piles of blankets and school supplies surrounded by Students for Change who will send them to Afghanistan - (Make sure you take Pattie off the pile first.) Grant might be bound to a post with colored duct tape to raise money for good causes while expounding wisdom on writing and other "stuff". John D might be guiding students through SQUEEPERS - survey, question, predict, read, review and summarize. He will tell me that "stuff" is a dead word. Derek will be collaborating with Chris V. and Kara on writing up and rating nuclear energy research papers. Chris V. will be using Bloom's levels of thinking to review life in the 20's - explain five major events - discuss five important names - analyze what would happen if.... Kara will be using scientific inquiry to assess the qualities of solids, liquids and gases. No! She will be the new science instructional coach. Laura and Amy will be collaborating on Twelfth Night character trait essays with sources cited in MLA format. Christina will be reciting Poe's poetry with his raven on her shoulder. Liz, Talana and Candy will be reading the latest and greatest reads - graphic novels about vampires anyone? Bryan H will be making Much Ado About Nothing if students have nothing to turn in translated from Shakespeare's English to modern day script. (Bryan transformed at Prom) As we know, Failure is Not an Option at West. Katie will assist students online while Ann keeps students in line with our 100% test participation goals. Karina, Linda and Barbara will be tapping student effort while checking for comprehension. Lily, Toby, Dave H. and Madalyn will be conferencing with students and parents with graduation in mind. Sarah will be telling them "where to go" for the next step upward. Dave F. will be teaching vocational skills with good recyling habits in mind. Julie Ann and Bobby will be collaborating on analyzing quiz/test questions to assess student progress in math skills. Jon will be reviewing the Pythagorean Theorem. Kevin C will be teaching how to read and follow directions in order to make a Mobius Strip. Kevin G will be hanging chart paper with complete lesson objects and chapter outlines. Jeremy's class will be shooting off water rockets while Mike's class will be shooting off solid fuel rockets - written reports to follow. Andy will be referring to the order of operations doing number puzzles and incorporating literacy in math through Fantasy Football (i.e. read a table for information.) Robert will be modeling the use of the GRM in learning about slope using direct instruction followed by shared and guided instruction through teamwork. Homework will provide the intentional independent element. The slope of student learning will be on the rise. Joe L. will be posing higher level thinking questions to ESL students who are applying and translating among mathematical representations to solve problems (MA.CM.PS.01-05) like how many hamburgers did student x sell compared to student y.... Check out his personal math video for the answer. Joe R. will be using authentic situations and Pi on the wall (Yes there is Pi on the wall in B111) to discuss and solidify vocabulary of Measures of Central Tendancy. Tate will be using think alouds to help students master ELS or essential learning skills. Krista's and Janis' classes will be cooking up sweet tastes and smells for teachers to test in the Black Box. Tara will be training students to teach tiny Titan Tots who will be Titan teens in no time. Michelle C's students will be presenting vocabulary posters and powerpoints to promote understanding of solubility. John B's students will be writing letters to the editor to convince the public that the Great Garbage Patch is real and we should do our part by asking for paper, or taking our own cloth sacks to the grocery store. Nikki B. will be back at West. Thanks to Eric for guiding her students while she was on leave. Larry and Scott C. will be golfing, but their past students will still remember the essays they wrote and graded on the four market structures, and monitoring their favorite stocks with "real" money invested. Ted D. will be supervising bridge building and Greg will be supervising robot building while Carol will be collaborating via electronic file folders with Matt to put Fireworks and Flash into web pages. (...when she is not at MAPS with Marina.)Graham's class will be deciding whodunit based on evidence obtained through the titration of bodily fluids discovered at the crime scene. Resulting student videos may be available for weekend viewing. John O and Nikki P will be assessing student comprehension of the Great Depression or Immigration Issues through clickers and simulations. Pat will be cooking up real life uses for working with fractions. (The need becomes apparent when all your kids leave home and you divide fractions for meal-making; when they return with spouses and grandkids, you multiply fractions to feed the small army. ) Speaking of armies, Jay M.will be using T-charts for comparing religions and other similarities and differences, which often led to wars in European history. Steve will be reading about and sharing thoughts on Darwin's Origin of Species (Don't refer to it as "origin of life, " as we have no evidence of that, Steve reminds us.) Ty T will be teaching note-taking skills while investigating the events that led to WWII via PowerPoint. Jason will be reading a letter by Benjamin Franklin; students will be summarizing and resorting to Renzulli for extended applications. Carol's students will be working with Jana, Debra, Liz, Dianna, Rob, Gayle, Hanna, Nicole, Marcie and Katie (Nicole and friend get their exercise) to take her students and teachers alike from GOOD TO GREAT. For a better picture of these teachers and the rest of our wonderful staff and administrators, check out the year in review in previous entries.

1 comment:

~Daryl Silberman and Orchestra Boosters said...

Great entry Sandi! You are so good at making the connection points...