Monday, February 7, 2011

Teaching for Understanding using Best Practices: Sometimes WE Just Need a Model

We all know that 5, 10, 15 years could go by and we may never see a classroom outside of our own. We often get so comfortable teaching behind our own four walls, that we make or never take the opportunity observe the practices of others for the purpose of learning, reflecting, and setting professional next steps. Reading research-based books, participating in PDs, and engaging in conversations with our colleagues can only offer so much in fostering our growth- sometimes we just need to see a model of best practices, hear the language of the classroom, and feel the rigorous, yet nurturing community established. Sometimes you just need go to on a professional “field trip”.

Something we strive to do here at BES is integrate the thinking strategies across all content areas. Over the last several years we’ve concentrated heavily on implementing the language and process in our reading workshops, but moving our understanding of teaching through thinking strategies into our writing, math, science, social studies and other workshops is the next step towards helping our students to understand, apply, and transfer their learning. Taking a planning or half-day and going outside of your classroom (within our own school or outside of BES) will grant you the opportunity to observe best practices such as:

• integrating thinking strategies within literacy and across content areas
• high expectations & rigor
• workshop model
• model conferring
• student-led Share Square the works to deepen students’ understanding of concepts
• classroom environment- physical space and classroom community
• varied (and possibly new) approaches to addressing content
• etc.

The Strategy/Activity for our Literacy Component on our CSIP includes offering teachers the opportunity to continue to observe in other classrooms ways to integrate thinking strategies and improve next steps in instruction to implement thinking strategies in all curricular areas. The Expected Impact in Terms of Progress and Success are the following: as a result of an observation student performance and achievement increase as evidenced through classroom observations, teacher reflections, and analysis of common assessments. Is this the next step for you?

Take 3-5 minutes to fill out the survey sent to your email to see if observing in another classroom is the next step for you in your efforts to refine your professional practices.

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