December 12, 2016
The Adolescent Literacy Project (ALP) has been a large part of our professional development since 2011. This is our 6th year with the project and we are reflecting on how to sustain this effective practice. The feedback from teachers and administrators has informed us that instruction has improved thus student achievement and that was our goal from the beginning.
Teaching is a skill that has to be practiced in order to improve. The schools that have been implementing the components of the ALP have included practice with feedback in the form of learning walks. This is a form of reflective practice that has been recognized as an important piece of professional learning for some time. Reflecting on teaching is not new, in fact Socrates taught his students that “the unexamined life isn’t worth living.” In more recent times Donald Schon has greatly influenced many professions with his book The Reflective Practitioner (1983). distinguished between reflecting and changing our behavior in the midst of action and looking back on our action and reshaping what we are doing. Thus learning walks have a research base. We would like to build on the reflective practice research to enhance the ALP.
The ALP Sustainability Committee is working to come up with ways to sustain the initiative. We feel that focusing on reflective practice makes good sense. Teaching & Learning team has other initiatives that fit right in with this idea. Learning is one of our focal points. They are modeling their three year plan after the ALP’s plan to increase the chances of sustained implementation. Self and peer feedback will be part of the plan. Another initiative of the Teaching and Learning team is the execution of an instructional model to create a comprehensive framework of research-based teaching practices that result in increased student learning. The framework offers educators, administrators, students, and parents a common language of instruction in order to communicate about educational excellence. Both the Danielson and Marzano models have reflective practice components that underscore the importance of reflection. Pete Hall professional learning series also has a focus on reflection as it relates to instructional coaching. He proposes a coaching framework based on the idea that teachers who are self-reflective will grow their skills and have a positive effect on student learning.
As we work to develop a sustainability plan you can be sure we will heed the research and make sure reflective practice is part of the plan. Richard Henry Dunn has said, “He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”
-by Susan Evans, Teaching and Learning Coordinator