EDU 675 - Week 1 pp


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EDU 675 - Week 1 pp

  1. 1. Collaboration in Schools Week 1 of EDU 675 Katura M. Lesane, PhD
  2. 2. This Week’s Assignments Discussion 1 • A significant part of differentiated instruction implementation is created through professional development. Complete the "Creating and Sustaining a Professional Learning Community" checklist in Chapter 1 of Differentiated Instructional Strategies in Practice: Training, Implementation, and Supervision (2nd ed.). • How many of the questions on this checklist are present in your current school or workplace? • Based on the results of this checklist, identify and discuss in detail four activities that would create and sustain a professional learning community in your school or workplace. Tip: You may not be in a school, but consider your present work environment or think about what you consider to be an ideal work environment. What four strategies would be useful and why? Guided Response: Review several of your classmates’ posts. Respond to at least two of your classmates and provide insight on how they may improve their activities. Challenge your classmates by asking a question that may cause them to reevaluate their activities.
  3. 3. This Week’s Assignments Discussion 2 • View the video, Transforming a School into a Professional Learning Community. Considering your required readings and this video, • What effects do differentiated instruction and professional learning communities have on school culture? • How does differentiated instruction reflect the attitudes and values of a school building? • How can the development of a professional learning community and differentiated professional development benefit students? • Identify two examples, one negative and one positive, in your school or workplace that affect school culture. • Identify how a professional learning community could benefit your school or workplace culture in the context of these situations. Tips: There are many parts to this discussion; address them all. If you are not in a school, think about any work environment or maybe your child’s or grandchild’s school. Do not think that PLCs can not be used in any work setting. You may substitute the word “school” for “work.” Guided Response: Review several of your classmates’ posts. Respond to at least two of your classmates and provide additional thoughts to the benefits of professional learning communities. Do you agree with their conclusions? Why or why not?
  4. 4. This Week’s Assignments Journal • Consider the benefits of the activities proposed in your discussion of professional learning communities. • How can you implement these activities in your organization or how will you implement them in a future position that you will hold within an organization? • Why would these benefit your organization or a future organization? • What do you feel will be the outcome of this collaboration? Tip: Before completing this journal you must refer to your discussion one post and the four activities you suggested. You do not have to address all four in the journal, but choose at least two in order to answer the journal prompt.
  5. 5. This Week’s Assignments Written Assignment Search the Ashford University Library databases for two articles discussing the benefits of a professional learning community to school culture and examine Figure 2 of your text, Differentiated Instructional Strategies in Practice: Training, Implementation, and Supervision. Using this research, design a professional development plan for your school that will positively impact school culture. In a three- to five-page paper, discuss the following: • Summarize your research and the research in Figure 2 (Joyce & Showers, 1995). • How is this research applicable to your work setting? • Discuss the professional development plan that you have created. • How will this plan benefit school culture? • Integrate the research you have found on professional development and include appropriate references within your discussion. Tips: This is a paper and not a response to separate questions. Be sure to see the tips and the rubric in the announcements that have been posted on how to write this paper. Make sure the ideas connect and are not separate responses to questions. Be sure to address the work of Joyce and Showers and how it relates to professional development. Finally, use research, but do not solely rely on research. Tell personal stories or list personal examples from your work environment or from an ideal work environment that supports the research.
  6. 6. Building a School Culture to Support Differentiation • One of the most important habits a school leader can develop is establishing a school culture that supports the individual and diverse needs of students. According to Deal and Peterson (1999) culture includes having a shared purpose and mission. Included in this are values, beliefs, and norms that define the school. Leaders should be “tight” about these culture definers. There should be no compromise about what they are and their importance in reaching the goals of the school. With these strong culture definers in place, there is room to begin the process of implementing processes that will make differentiation and effective teaching and learning a hallmark of the school. • In addition to establishing a mission and purpose, effective school leaders must develop a climate where teachers are valued, respected, and feel informed and capable. An educator who has the tools, knowledge, and opportunity/voice to meet the needs of all learners will be more inclined to feel capable of doing so. These educators will have a vested interest in the process.
  7. 7. Building a School Culture to Support Differentiation Cont. • As a former assistant principal, I saw this as one of the most vital components of strengthening teaching and learning. There must be a buy-in among all faculty and staff in order to develop the habits and practices required to move a school from poor to good or from good to great. Making all staff and faculty feel empowered, capable, and appreciated changed the culture of my former elementary school. With this change, came a change in attitude. With the attitude change came a change in work ethic. With a change in work ethic came a willingness to embrace new ideas, including the concepts of PLCs, action research, and meetings to examine student work. And with a willingness to embrace new ideas came a soar in student achievement – our ultimate goal! • Gregory (2008) highlights the elements for building a school’s capacity for change. Emphasized is the need for a supportive school culture, quality staff development, Professional Learning Communities, and a teacher’s sense of competence and confidence to establish a strong foundation for change and to reach the shared vision and purpose of student achievement.
  8. 8. Effective Professional Development as a Conduit for Change & Innovation • Professional Development is a conduit for change and achievement in schools or in any organization. Staff development should have a distinct purpose that is aligned to achieving the mission and purpose of the organization. Staff development should be viewed as an ongoing, collaborative, results-driven process aimed at improving the knowledge and skills of teachers and students alike. • Kylene Beers and Robert Probst are authors on reading strategies. In the brief video link below, the authors highlight why professional development is important for educators. Beers and Probst on Professional Development
  9. 9. Effective Professional Development as a Conduit for Change & Innovation Cont. Gregory (2008) offers several strategies school leaders can use to accomplish job-embedded professional development. What Gregory has offered is important in that options are offered for every learning environment. The culture of one school may allow for the development of case studies and action research, while the culture of another school may be better suited for portfolios and coaching to improve teaching and learning. Know your environment. Know the culture of your school. Know your teachers and your students. Develop programs that fit the environment, but be progressive by expanding the culture to new heights in order to meet the needs of your students. Joyce and Showers (1995), as referenced in Gregory (2008), suggest that learners are most likely to transfer new skills into practice when the training incorporates practice and feedback through job-embedded coaching and study teams. Theory is not enough in professional development training sessions. To increase awareness, skill attainment, and application of information presented in professional development trainings, there must be follow-up with peer coaching and on-going study teams to discuss the desired change.
  10. 10. Strategies for Job-Embedded Professional Development • Utilize study groups where professionals can dialogue about research on teaching and learning. • Incorporate instructional coaching where onsite professionals teach educators how to use proven teaching methods through modeling and effective feedback. • Develop teaching cadres or groups where best practices are shared and modeled. • Establish video viewings where classrooms in action are viewed and assessed to spark discussion about teaching and learning • Use journaling as a means to assess strengths and weaknesses. • Use the Jigsaw strategy to expand knowledge by reading and learning about new, research-based information that will improve teaching and learning.
  11. 11. Strategies for Job-Embedded Professional Development • Incorporate action research as a reflective, problem-solving strategy to implement change in the classroom. This strategy also allows educators to investigate topics that are important to them. • Create teaching portfolios to document evidence of teaching and learning, to show areas of development, and to establish overall accountability for teaching and learning. • Establish curriculum development programs that ensure that teachers stay abreast of strategies and content that will move the school towards their academic goals. • Provide time for analysis of student work in order to use data to inform practices, to set standards, and to reflect on learning and student progress. • Establish mentoring programs to improve teaching and thus learning. This will also develop a shared culture where people are supported in their work towards success. • Take the progressive step of incorporating case studies in the learning environment to develop and understand phenomenon that impacts teaching and learning.
  12. 12. Professional Learning Communities One effective component of professional development is the establishment of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). According to Murphy & Lick (2001), as found in Gregory (2008), the purposes of PLCs include: • developing a deeper understanding of academic content. • supporting the implementation of curricula. • identifying a focus for the school’s instructional processes. • studying research on teaching and learning. • monitoring the impact of instructional initiatives. • examining student work.
  13. 13. Professional Learning Communities Cont. • DuFour (2004) is one of the gurus of Professional Learning Communities. He stresses three big ideas in effective implementation of PLCs. These include: • Ensuring that students learn and are not simply taught. There should be a focus on the learning and not the teaching. • Establishing a culture of collaboration to develop habits and skills to ensure students learn. • Judging effectiveness based on results. This includes developing measurable goals and analyzing data to further inform planning and practices. DuFour Discusses PLCs
  14. 14. Professional Learning Communities Cont. Rlbarret (n.d.) lists 10 ways that schools can transform themselves into PLCs. 1. All stakeholders must be willing to join the team and work together as one. 2. Leaders should ensure that staff understands what it takes to become a successful PLC. 3. The staff should develop a shared mission/vision. This is not solely a leaders’ job. All stakeholders should have a role in this process. 4. Once the mission/vision is determined, it must be communicated to all. The school’s goals must be transparent. 5. Describing the vision to all lets everyone know and understand what the school values. It is a road map for all to see where the school is going culturally and academically.
  15. 15. Professional Learning Communities Cont. 6. The vision must be used; everyone must buy-in and be willing to use this vision/mission. Having a vision/mission written on paper means nothing if there is no application. 7. The school’s values and mission statements must be linked. The leader must promote and defend the commitments developed by the vision/mission. 8. The school must focus on the goals set by the staff. In the classroom, in the hallways, in the cafeteria, and at home, there is a focus on what is believed. 9. The plan must be research-based. Constant analysis is necessary. 10. There must be a commitment to dissolve the old ways of running a school and ensure that the new goals become the focus of success.
  16. 16. References • DuFour, R. (2004). What is a professional learning community. Retrieved from • Gregory, G. (2008). Differentiated instructional strategies in practice: Training, implementation, and supervision (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. • Heinnemann Videos. (16 March 2010). Why professional development is important for teachers. [video file]. Retrieved from • Rlbarrett. (n.d.). Transforming a School into a Professional Learning Community. Retrieved from • Solution Tree. (2011 April 8). Solution Tree: Rick DuFour on the importance of PLCs. [video file]. Retrieved from