Teacher Leaders “Reform”

Greg Broberg Uncategorized

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I recently participated in an amazing Twitter chat with Patrick Riccards (@Eduflack).  The topic related to educational reform.  The most significant take-away from this chat was the subtle reminder that as teacher leaders we need to take responsibility for “re-forming” the work we do.   This is probably easier said than done considering the focus on teacher evaluation, standardized testing and the Common Core State Standards.  However, I had to remind myself that the word “reform” means: the improvement of something that is wrong.  With this in mind I was quickly able to think of things that I do or can do to “reform” my teaching and the lives of my students in my classroom.

Focus on amazing learning experiences:  Recently I have blogged about one of the bane of our existences in education – time.  I feel like I never have enough.  However, I have recently begun speaking out to those things that take time away from my planning and reflection.  In other words, saying “no” or “not now” to meetings or supposed emergencies.  As professionals (or teacher leaders) we need to model the practice of time management.  It is never easy to say “no”, however, if our focus is to serve the needs of students there are times when we have to create boundaries in what can and should be done.  A primary outcome from our professional learning communities (PLC) should be focused, change management.   At the heart of this outcome are the learning experiences we deliver to students.

Asking students for their thoughts:  I am always amazed at the ideas that my students come up with in order to better the work I do.  I just don’t ask them often enough.  Having just finished my first quarter I made it a priority to take an entire class period dedicated to student reflection.  I asked my students to look at and reflect on the work they have done, and most importantly what they thought I needed to do to support their personal learning goals.  Not surprisingly, some of my students filled two pages with written thoughts outlining their accomplishments and lists of things that I can do to support their second quarter goals.

Never underestimate the “small” things that lead to student achievement:   When people discuss educational reform it seems to be framed around large-scale improvement – the new Common Core standards or teacher evaluation processes.  The problem with this mindset is that it tends to distract us from the things that we do every day to improve student achievement.  I recently experienced an example of this when two of my students came up to me to tell me that the writing they were turning in “was the best writing they had ever done”.   Isn’t this the real definition of student achievement?

I am certain that others could add to my list of “reforms” that take place every day in our classrooms.  As teacher leaders part of our job is to help our colleagues envision the power they have in true “reform”.

* For more details related to the Twitter chat with Patrick Riccards go to #azk12chat.

 

Greg Broberg

Tempe, Arizona

One of my favorite quotes related to teaching is by Socrates: “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” It keeps me grounded in two ways. First, it reminds me that teaching should always involve the “search” for knowledge. This may come from a professional development source, colleague or student. Second, it keeps me on guard for new ways to engage students—bringing a fresh perspective on something I may have taught for years.

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Comments 5

  1. Kathryn

    I look forward to reading more. Thank you so much for your work in the classroom, you are a wonderful teacher with so much to give.

  2. Sandy Merz

    Here’s another thing I’ve been re-forming: my interest in students as they participate in extra-curricular activities. This year I made it to almost all our home basketball and volleyball games – often I was the only teacher there, besides the coaches.
    On Thursday the boys one the district championship – there were two other teachers for that.
    But what blows my mind away was seeing how kids, many of whom fail to meet my classroom expectations with the resulting judgment on my part that what they do in my class is representative of what they do everywhere. Then I see these same kids excelling on the court and really loving and caring about what they’re doing, and I see not just potential but real accomplishment – and that transfers to the classroom where I see them differently – with more respect. It makes a switch in my thinking from, “How can I make them part of my world?” to How can I be part of their world?”

  3. Jess Ledbetter

    (Wow, Sandy! I love your comment!)
    As a teacher for preschool students with autism and severe communication delays, every day is about “reform.” I am constantly considering the next step to move their communication (and often their behavior!) to the next level. These daily little reforms slowly move my students toward big change over time. If I think about reform in this way you have described Greg, I can get on board with the idea that reform has a strong place in our schools. Reform, defined this way, is about reflective practice in teaching and nicely aligns with the Core Propositions of National Board Certification :)

  4. Jen Robinson

    Greg-
    You bring up an interesting point about education reform. It seems that we have become immune to the word “reform.” You shared that the word “reform “ means to the improvement of something that is wrong. When we look at it that way – it is much more attainable. I like how you examined how you might say “no” or “not now.” This made me think about putting first things first and categorizing tasks into four categories: important and urgent, important and not urgent, not important and urgent, and not important and not urgent. Each week I sit down and place the tasks that lie ahead into these categories helping to fin some balance between school and home.
    You also created an opportunity to share with students and get their input. How powerful to ask them to reflect on the quarter and what they thought you needed to do to support their learning goals.
    I look forward to reading more posts.

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