Today and tomorrow I’m doing the Seattle ‘Pyramid Response to Intervention’. It’s hosted by Austin Buffum, Mike Mattos, Chris Weber, and Janet Malone and is based off of the book. I’ll note that I’ve not read the book yet. I plan on doing a longer post on some of my thoughts from the seminar when it’s done, but I wanted to get a few things down about today while they are fresh.
There are a lot of soundbites and buzzwords being bandied about, but they made a great point that though many teachers say ‘all children can learn’, they usually put a ‘but’ or ‘except’ after that sentence. All means all, peoples. Mattos made an great point that the only thing you can put after that sentences is “who will be expected to live independently one day”. There are some kids who will never be able to live independently and for whom telling hot/cold water is the main goal for the immediate future. They will lean, but it’s going to be modified. Other than that population, they can all learn. may be an uphill slog of a downhill sled, but they can do it. The prior group will just have better calf muscles when they’re through.
New favorite word: Co-blab-eration. Because, really, isn’t that what so much collaborative work turns into? kibitzing about students, musing on public opinion, pining for the good ol’ days. Blarg. I want to work. I want to plan this curriculum and find consensus on what we as a department feels is important. I want to hear from the new teachers and the veterans on the topic at hand, not the latest admin decision that has your panties in a twist.
Favorite quote: “Choose first steps to engineer early victories”. YES. I want this tattooed on the back of my eyelids (metaphorically–I have a tattoo planned, but it’s not going on my eyelids and is far more geeky). This is my biggest goal at the start of every year because it creates so much student buy-in and builds their self-efficacy. It’s sets a positive tone and does more for classroom management than just about anything else.
It’s also something I think the PLC work at my school needs to turn to. We started PLC’s last year, and there is plenty of issues being voiced from not enough time to too much time (hah!) to too much district mandated focuses. We did some great work in terms to picking out the most important learning targets/skills from each of the state standards for Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2, but it needs to keep going! All we did was identify–now we need to peel apart what goes into them (pre-reqs) and how do we teach them? When? What depth? What do we do when the kids don’t get it? Who taught it crazy-well and can share there secrets? How will we be able to judge that last one?
I love the time spent working with the Alg 1 group that I was a part of and the Precalc group (though that one spans schools). When we really focused on data and instruction the conversations were wonderful, but we also got off-task a lot. I’m as much to blame for it as anyone else–exhaustion at the end of the day does not a productive worker make. But I also believe that true PLC collaborative work will lessen the work elsewhere if we can pin down our strengths and share more. The conversations need to be about the teaching and not the teachers, though, if it’s going to work. I am not sure my department has had the training to make that happen.
The seminar is overall interesting if only for the time to talk with others from my school about PLC work and where we are going this year with it all. It pales to PCMI in terms of PD, but hey, what doesn’t? Definitely Admin-y, but in a room with 500 others at the Westin, how could it not? As our PLC focus for the past year was on ‘what’ students should be learning and able to do, I look forward to working on the ‘how’ we know they know it but I think much of the year will still be focused on the first question as there is a lot to unpack in terms of prerequisites and where topics are seen again that I don’t think has been done yet. On the bright side, all the SBG work I did for Alg 1 cam in handy when it came time to focus on the ‘core’ standards in the state curriculum (Ooo, that one has 6 skills associated with it–it might be important!).
Lastly, I’m thinking of taking a stack of index cards, the college readiness standards (read: as close to precalc standards as I have), my school’s precalc book, and a few other precalc books I ❤ and making a giant tech-tree, a la Civilization, on my wall at school before the year starts to help me think about organization and skills needed and where things repeat. I’ll post pix if I get anywhere with that.
Anyhoo, will post more next week. Going to the ocean this weekend. After being gone 5 weeks, clearly I’ve been home too long. May make a sandcastle based on Mandelbrot.