Saturday, March 15, 2014

Slice of Life & Celebrate!

Since it's Saturday and I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge as well as Celebrate! I will be posting one post for both.

Discover. Play. Build. 

The week ended with my daughter being sick (again...) and me reflecting on a conversation that I had with a colleague where I came to the realization that I need to apologize. That's tough - admitting you're wrong. I may not have been wrong in what I said but the way I said "it" was not a way that made me proud. I should have resorted to mentor behavior and asked questions instead of speaking out in such a harsh way. The behavior in itself is not reason to celebrate but the fact that I recognize it and am motivated to remedy the situation is growth on my part. It is not easy for me to admit wrong doing nor do I always have the courage to apologize. 

Since I ended my work week on a shaky note, today's post is really an opportunity for me to focus on the positive. The coach I work with through the Chalkboard Project as I manager my district's Collaboration Grant is constantly pushing me to look for the progress we have made this year and to celebrate it. Today's post will reflect a lot of the celebrating I am doing in that part of my job. 

1. I needed some time to focus on a few projects around the house. I try to be fairly organized, but it feels like things are spiraling out of control a bit. My husband took Maddie fishing at a local reservoir - this is the picture that my husband sent me.
The happiness I feel with this pictures comes from two places. First of all, I love that Maddie loves to spend time with her daddy. I love, too, that her daddy helps her to enjoy life outdoors. For me, being outdoors involves a chair and a book - I love that my husband adds some balance to her life. Second, is that this picture brings back good memories of my dad posing for pictures with his catch of the day as well. I am sure he was smiling down on Maddie as she fished. 

2. My work week began with a second meeting for the month with the Collaboration Grant's District Leadership Team. Our coach, Annie, did an opening activity with us that she called a Chalk Talk. 
The directions were for each of us to respond to the prompt she gave us (Speaking for your future self, what does it look like when Professional Development is done really well?). We were to use a marker to write on the butcher paper (resembling a chalk board) and we could not say a word. What ensued was pretty powerful! It's worth noting that the team is comprised of administrators and teachers and a school board member. There's been some tension in the group as we try to work our way through developing a sustainable professional development plan that meets everyone's needs. Sometimes the conversation feels like we are on opposing sides. The power in the Chalk Talk came from the fact that every voice was "heard" and the results were that we all wanting for the same things in PD: job embedded, relevant, choice. We still have our work ahead of us as we work to meet the goals we established when writing the grant but then also as we look ahead to what next year holds. I have high hopes that we will be moving away from what we've always done in my district - a one size fits all plan that has yielded the same results time and again.

3. Groups of teachers from each of the five elementary schools in my district continue to roll out the pilot of iWalkthrough, a web-based peer observation tool. In the 20 years I have been in my school district, we have not spent much time in each other's classrooms, much less provided feedback about what we observe. iWalkthrough provides us with a tool to go in and do three minute observations of our peers and record the observations. Feedback centers on practices such as engagement, teacher talk, student talk, use of technology, etc. It's too soon to celebrate the data, per se, but as the grant manager I have access to the district data and it is exciting to see the data base grow as teachers are observing. The fact that teachers are in each other's classrooms is reason to celebrate. I look forward to seeing how the data collection impacts teacher practice. 
Two teachers calibrate with the peer observation coach.
4. We completed a second 3-hour session of Common Formative Assessment training facilitated by one of our own administrators. We talk a lot about Common Formative Assessment but are only beginning to support teachers professional development needs with writing their own. For me, it's just exciting to see teachers learning and growing together around assessment. 

At the end of the day, I am happy when there's evidence that some of teachers' professional needs are being met. I am not the one doing the training but I am a part of making it happen for teachers in my district. Teacher needs being met is reason to celebrate.


  1. Asking questions instead of speaking out ...
    Speaking out instead of pushing back ...
    Pushing back instead of falling away ...
    Falling away instead of asking questions ...
    We circle the conversations with prickly pears in hand
    neither one of us knowing what words will jab
    or what points will hold
    and I've been holding my tongue so long
    my fingers are sore from not saying
    what it is I need to be saying in order
    not to hurt your feelings and
    I suspect you may be thinking the same thing.

    PS -- Lifting lines for poems. I don't think my poem is what you meant in your post so I hope you don't mind if I took it in another direction, perhaps echoes of my own interactions in school. I'm interested in your web-based walkthroughs, though. I am off to check it out.

  2. Kevin, I appreciated the poem. It's quite true and relevant. There's often a dance with those professional conversations. I need to practice the right words to say ... it seems that there may be conversations that are just difficult to have and hear (thus the poem) so I don't want to lose the courage it takes to have difficult conversations. At the same time, my tone need not be so harsh.
    I happen to be a poetry fan so your comment spoke to me. Thank you for that. :o)