Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December and the First Year

I wonder how many of us can remember the moment, during our first year of teaching, when the honeymoon phase was over?  The graph below is referenced in a great article, "Phases of First-Year Teaching".

2011, New Teacher Center
Author Ellen Moir offers some great insights as to the possible reasons for December Disillusionment.  Those of us who have experienced a few weary Decembers might be able to conjure up an explanation or two as well! 

Today, the Consulting Teachers met together to create some words of encouragement for the district's 107 new staff members.  We focused our reflections on the joy of career and calling, service and meaning. 

As we worked to create words of encouragement for new teachers, I realized that the new Consulting Teachers in our district work tirelessly to encourage all teachers--daily! We may not move the needle on student achievement with a mid-winter greeting card.  But, I hope we can move toward rejuvenation and revitalization as we reflect together on the great profession of teaching.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The First Ninety Days of TLC

Ninety days ago, the new teacher leaders in Sioux City met together for the first time:  new leaders in new roles with new schedules and new goals.  Ninety days.
There is a prevailing wisdom that the success or failure of a new leader may rest in the accomplishments of the first ninety days---or, if you are an American president, the first hundred.  

What have our new teacher leaders accomplished in ninety days?  Let me count the ways:
  •!  Our new Instruction “Help Desk” and resource center is now LIVE, with over one hundred essential curriculum resources for SCCSD classroom teachers and over 450 new “tickets” (teacher inquiries) answered.  More added daily!
  • Boots on the Ground.  Job-embedded instructional coaching doesn’t happen from behind a computer.  Consulting teachers log hundreds of interactions with teachers each week, from modeling new strategies to brainstorming classroom management techniques. 
  • Curriculum work uncorked!  Teams of teachers across the district work alongside teacher leaders to refine standards and build powerful common assessments, supporting student achievement with standards-referenced teaching and learning.
  • Got PLC?  Check!  Forty consulting teachers invest deeply in grade-level or content-alike teams every day across the district, working shoulder to shoulder with classroom teachers to drive instruction for student learning.
  • More than a Monday,  building level professional development is instructionally focused as classroom teachers and consulting teachers work with their administrators to use assessment data to monitor student progress toward learning targets.
A lot can happen in 90 days.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

A New Model

Interestingly, one of the most promising properties of the fullerenes is their ability to serve as ligands in organo-metallic systems.  Think of them as connectors, facilitators and catalysts.  

Call me crazy, but C60 reminds me of CT40  (the forty Consulting Teachers in Sioux City CSD).

Educational models of leadership are being reinvented in Iowa, thanks to the Teacher Leadership and Compensation grants.  This model of teacher-leadership is an attractive new structure that promotes collaboration and empowers classroom teachers. In Sioux City, Consulting Teachers serve as catalysts to accelerate growth for the schools structures in which they serve.

We may not win the Nobel Prize, but I think that the TLC may just be the Buckminster Fuller of education:  an architect of a new way to think about school structures. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Consulting Teachers PLC

Consulting Teachers spend 80% of their time working directly with teachers in the classroom.  At other times, they meet to discuss strategies which shape their work with teachers.

In every case, the Consulting Teacher is asking the question, "How can I support classroom teachers to increase student achievement?"

The focus is always on students.

In this photo, the STEM Integration Program Coordinator is working with Consulting Teachers to design math and science resources which will impact student achievement.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Keep Calm and Call the Consulting Teacher

Keep Calm, and Call the Consulting Teacher
OK.  I'm impressed.  After a fast-paced first week at Hunt Elementary School, these two Consulting Teachers sing songs and are generally bringing sunshine to their world.  Nice idea on the t-shirts, by the way.  Jealous.

Emily reports, "Kathy and I held individual and team meetings with the grade levels to begin to discuss goals for the year. During this time we built relationships and made positive progress on enrolling [teachers] to begin an instructional coaching plan."  

I'm hearing similar stories from Consulting Teachers in every building throughout the district.  One of the most important themes emerging is the emphasis on setting student-achievement goals with classroom teachers.  

After all, today and tomorrow, (TLC grants or not!) Sioux City CSD is focused on the kids!

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Day for TLC

It's the first day of school, and you don't have your seating charts made, your lesson plan ready or your schedule memorized. And, that's OK:  you are a Consulting Teacher.

It's the first day of school, but no students will fill your classroom with noisy chatter and eager faces.  And, that's OK:  you are a Consulting Teacher. 

It's the first day of school, and maybe you feel tempted to hide in the front office, or busy yourself with paperwork  and emails.  Don't:  you are a Consulting Teacher.

Instead, be present (deeply engaged) in this moment.  Greet kids in the hallways during every transition period all day long.  Help a confused parent. Look for the lonely or lost (kids or adults) and offer a friendly word of encouragement.  You can do this: you are a Consulting Teacher.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Implementing the TLC

Add this reagent to any system.
Change will occur.

I've lived long enough to know that programs don't change institutions...humans do.  If the Human Element is added to any system, the equilibrium is shifted in the direction of change.  

As the TLC is implemented in Sioux City, the Human Element will need our attention.  Air to breathe, adequate hydration and nutrition, rest and renewal.  Growth.

This reagent will be the catalyst which will drive the reaction.  We just need to get the chemistry right.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Act, Learn, Be Great

In my eSTEMation, there is one critical ingredient that separates the good from the great in STEM teaching and learning.  Good STEM is student-centered, active and interdisciplinary.  But, great STEM extrapolates the learning curve until kids become contributors.  Great STEM expands the classroom until both teachers and kids can “Act Locally and Learn Globally”, facing the great engineering challenges of our time. 

Every generation since the beginning of civilization has faced its own unique engineering challenges, from electrification to agricultural mechanization. Today, I am convinced that STEM classrooms are the world’s best hope to face the global grand challenges of our age.

The list [developed with the input of thousands of citizens at the National Academy of Engineering website] is daunting, but inspiring:
How is today's educational platform preparing a STEM-literate citizenry to address these grand challenges?  The answer, in my opinion, is great STEM.  Great STEM fosters the imagination, the passion and the genius of every learner:  the artists, entrepreneurs, engineers, designers and builders who will one day lead the work on the grand challenges of our age.

Engineering challenges having a sweeping range, from virtual reality to urban infrastructure.   Can each of us identify at least one of the grand challenges that captures our own unique core imagination or passion, calling us to invest our own resources personally and professionally?  For instance, I contribute professionally to "advance personalized learning" through my daily work with teachers and school districts.  I contribute personally to "provide access to clean water" through humanitarian efforts.

From an educator’s perspective, I honestly think that a team of creative teachers could cover the entire core content by “reverse engineering” from the grand challenges. How cool would that be?! Now that really would be holding true to the maxim that we Begin With the End In Mind.  We could begin by asking our local business partners questions like, “What need does your industry meet for its customers?” and “What projects energize your top thinkers and doers?”

I am not sure which comes first, “acting locally” or “learning globally”.  Honestly, I think Iowa’s best classroom teachers are already helping students to do both. 

In my eSTEMation, greatness STEMs from Iowans, “acting locally and learning globally”.