So… we’re doing a book study this semester on Learning By Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work by the DuFours, Robert Eaker and Thomas Many. I have one regret – why didn’t I work EVEN HARDER at trying to get more teachers involved in this!?
Next year, my job shifts to involve me even more in curriculum – I’ll be the new Director for Academic Affairs, and I can’t help thinking about next year as we wrap up this year with a book study on PLCs. I count myself as incredibly fortunate to have worked at a school that continues to improve, year after year. Yet, this book makes real clear that we can be even better if we focus on the ‘right’ things when we get together in teams to collaborate (something we’ve been doing for the last 3 years):
… since the purpose of the school is to ensure high levels of learning, the goals of the team must be explicitly and directly tied to that purpose. (DuFour, et. al., p.120) [emphasis added]
I just learned even more about the ‘right things’ when I read Chris Lindholm‘s recent post on “The Right Reasons” in which he refers to John Hattie‘s synthesis of over 800 meta-studies on student achievement in Visible Learning. Lindholm even provides an embedded Slideshare presentation that summarizes Chapter 3 (“The Argument: Visible Teaching and Visible Learning”) of Hattie’s book.
What jumps out at me… something I’ve been actively advocating for and tryingto model for the past few years, is… FEEDBACK!!! Challenging students in a highly structured manner that incorporates timely, specific feedback (differentiation is also important).
It involves an accomplished teacher who knows a range of learning strategies… The teacher needs to provide direction and re-direction in terms of the content being understood and thus maximize the power of feedback… also requires a commitment to seeking further challenges (for the teacher and for the student)…” (John Hattie, Visible Learning, 2009, p. 38)
This also re-emphasizes that the teacher as learner is crucial to improvement. The power of learning together has wide-ranging (positive) implications. Lifelong learning in action begets lifelong learning!