Having been an educator for 15 years now, I have been to many professional development sessions. Most of them had been uninspiring.
This clip is a perfect example of bad PD. (So, the clip I had planned on putting in here would be entirely inappropriate for any blog intended for general audiences. It is without a doubt the greatest monologue from the past 50 years - either in the stage play or the film adaptation. But, again, entirely inappropriate. So in its place, here's a more tame but still edgy version. Please forgive the ad at the front end of the clip.)
I was lucky enough to be a part of a great professional development opportunity today presented by the School District of Menomonee Falls. The professional development was focused around the continuous classroom improvement model, CCI, the district has implemented within all classrooms K-12 and across all components of the district operations from facilities management to human resources. In this blog, I will only focus on the classroom implementation.
The process is a cycle many of us may have heard spoken or have some familiarity with. This model, though, puts it in the classroom and makes it a truly powerful tool. The tool is the PDSA cycle, a.k.a. plan, do, study, act. A few years ago, my school district attempted an implementation of the PDSA cycle for school and department improvement. It failed to stick because the goals of the process were unclear as was the cycle. If you've had a negative experience with the cycle please leave those preconceived notions behind as I provide a brief overview of what I saw today.
At the classroom level, the PDSA cycle is completed over the course of a unit of instruction. The people involved in the cycle are the students and their teacher, not administration. It is designed to be a cycle driven by the students and facilitated by the teacher. To get a true sense of the cycle, I think it would be most helpful to walk through what the 4 parts entail. Please realize that the verbs are not the cycle. They can be called whatever is most appropriate to your classroom. It is what they entail that matters.
PlanThis is what the teacher wants to see. There is a year long goal, but also unit goals. Consider these the unit learning targets in the form of "I can..." statements. In addition, the teacher will include the measurable goal for the unit. In many classrooms, students are setting individual unit goals and keep track of their progress towards the goal. Here are some samples I took snapshots of.
|High School Math|
|High School Chemistry|
This is what the class will need to do to reach the goals. This means what the students will do and what the teacher will do. The class decides on these together through a democratic process of the teacher's choosing. Many of the classrooms I observed today had an activity bank from which methods were chosen to reach the goal.
|High School Chemistry|
This is when the class looks at assessment data to determine their progress towards the class goals. This takes a variety of forms as you can see below. The important thing, though, is that it is easy to read at a glance. Also, it is not a class average. It tracks how many students have achieved the classroom goals. For individual goals students keep track of their progress in binders or computer documents.
|High School Math|
This is the reflection piece at the end of the unit. This is when the students provide feedback in terms of the instructional strategies used in the unit, the "Do". What they think went well (+) or what should be changed (Δ). There is a wide variety of methods to collect data from post-it notes to Google Forms. In the end, though, these results are shared as a class and inform the strategies used in future units. The goal is to create student feedback that affects change in the classroom. It is designed to turn what were once student complaints into action steps that change instruction. Here is a sample.
At the end of one cycle, the "Act" stage is used to inform the "Do" strategies in the next unit. The cycle is visualized in the classroom in a single physical location in the room, usually a bulletin board or whiteboard . The process looks different from room to room, but it has the same components and the same ultimate goal. That goal is to put students at the center of the decision making in the classroom and let their feedback and choices inform the way the classroom is run. Students make a hypothesis of what will help them reach the objectives, analyze the results, and use this information to inform their next hypothesis of the best way to reach course goals. The scientific process at its most fundamental. This is why I got into education!
|Elementary Reading Intervention|
|High School Algebra II|
|Middle School AVID|
|Middle School Science|
This is a very cursory look at the process. My PD continues tomorrow. I hope to show in a future post how all current initiatives in my district can be achieved via one round of the Plan, Do, Study, Act steps as prescribed by the continuous classroom improvement cycle.