Turn & Talk #sol18
Yesterday we had a curriculum meeting. The staff gathers after school and chats together about some aspect of the curriculum. In many years, I made a presentation, teaching into this or that topic of interest or new learning. I think those days are gone… in a good way.
As we consider who is doing the heavy lifting in our classrooms, the gradual release of responsibility in our classrooms, so to might we consider DIY PD. DIY PD is not a new idea, but I don’t think I consider it in the same way I once did. Let’s go back to yesterday.
Our new principal is getting to know everyone around here. He’s had some (lots) of goal setting meetings and as he opened the meeting yesterday, he said, A goal is just another way to look at what you’re interested in. Leaving that very provocative thinking aside, he went on to say that partner work, the essence of students talking, collaborating, and working together was at the heart of most of his discussions. And then he said something that sounded like it was directly from his heart. He said that in light of the dangers faced in the world today, the hate, the discord, how we help students develop the ability to communicate, to cooperate, to listen and be heard is the vital work. Then he said magic words, Let’s just get together in some small groups now and talk about what were doing, what questions we have, where we would like to go next.
Then we did. We had no power point, no shared reading, no lecture. Just groups of eight or ten educators across the grade levels having an unstructured discussion regarding student-student feedback or student-teacher feedback. I heard just a little bit choosing to linger in a small group. But what I heard…
I heard educators talking about the power of partnerships for students. How each partnership can lift the level of student work by encouragement. That encouragement seems so authentic to students. You’re doing the same thing I am doing and you have an idea about what I might do next based on what you’ve tried. In the book, Thanks for the Feedback, the authors focus not on exactly how the feedback is delivered, but how we choose to receive it.
When we as coaches or administrators, team leaders or teachers, top-down every conversation, choosing what we’re thinking about, how we are thinking about it, and unfortunately, sometimes what we should think about it, we are doing a disservice to growth, learning, and respect. I’m imagining myself saying now I don’t do that. I am allowing thinking, conversation, and certainly respect. It what way would that not be the case? Maybe you do. But I didn’t always.
Yesterday… Perhaps some conversations went off course. Perhaps some dwindled down to complaints. Perhaps, just perhaps, some were right on target. It wasn’t my target. Hopefully, it was on target for the participants. When we allow for conversation, we allow for growth. When we aren’t looking for one answer, many, many show up.
I can’t leave my fixer mentality completely behind. I walked away from our meeting later thinking about resources that I want to make available to the educators in our building, discussions I hope to have, and visits between educators that I hope to facilitate. The difference is that these queries weren’t generated by me. They were generated by inquiry, conversation, and sharing. Now when they show up in the teacher lounge, in a mailbox, through an email, the receiver may say, that’s just what I was thinking about, looking for, wondering. And the learning community takes another move forward together.
So I’m considering the gradual release of coaching, the inquiry of community, and the DIY of learning for not just the classroom, but our whole community. Here’s to learning!
Slicing about the life of a literacy coach weekly on Tuesdays with my Two Writing Teachers Slice Community. Read more amazing slices here.