Monday, November 15, 2010

Movember Meeting at Seaview Elementary

PLC Part II - For PLC Part I see If it's important.

Friday, 10:45. It's time for the bi-weekly intermediate teachers meeting. Their students troop down to the gym where the principal leads them in activities. Today it's preparation for their upcoming Christmas concert. Classroom teachers Mike, Shaun, Steve and Jeff (all sporting their Movember mustaches), Student Support teacher Kori and two student teachers meet in the library. Their focus is peer and self assessment. Shaun launches the conversation with his work using learning intentions, stop lights and student reflections. Steve adds to the conversation with samples of some of his criteria and writing checklists for self assessment. He shares one that gives student space to point out what they've concentrated on, so as a teacher, he can pay attention to what a student is focussed on improving. Mike shares some of his self evaluation sheets and how he has incorporated a work ethic four-point scale that student regularly use to self-assess. Jeff shares a reading response workbook that includes a space for parent, peer, self and/or teacher assessment. He's now going to add a column for "sibling" assessment, since a boy came to school yesterday and said his sister read and assessed his response for him.

If you are a teacher, you're thinking - where can I get copies of all these goodies (including the over 100 graphic organizers in Shaun's "toolbox")? But it's not the same. You would just file it. You know you have too many organizers already. But if you worked at Seaview and took Mike's idea and tried it and it didn't quite work, you could pop in the next day and ask a question or see samples. You could reflect on things you tried at the next intermediate meeting and figure out what worked, what didn't and what you needed for next steps. You could talk to Kori about the student with special needs and how you could adapt the assessment tool for him. You could share what you're working on with your principal, so she could incorporate the strategy within the intermediate-wide activities she develops.

We don't need more stuff, more ideas, more resources. We need time to think deeply, to reflect with colleagues, to build a repertoire of what works for the kids we have today; we need a supportive environment, to know we are not alone, to share triumphs and catastrophes, to take risks to change; we need to know that a team will help us, prompt us, join us, plan with us, analyze, figure out.

Is it easy to set up a professional learning community in your school? Not at all! But is there any other way to ensure that teachers are supported, continually learning, sharing and deepening their practice, regularly consulting each other when they have a challenge, and staying current with new research, new curriculum and new tools for learning? I haven't thought of one yet. And until every teacher is supported, I don't know how we can ensure that each child is successful.


  1. As the principal, this is a nice opportunity to have all the intermediate or primary students together. I can use it to highlight school wide expectations, read a book, do science experiments and usually some DPA. And for the next few weeks, the music teacher will join me to practice the various parts of our upcoming musical together with the students. A short report (often oral) from the teachers about their discussions keeps me in the loop as well.

  2. A really good point - we have the 'stuff' we just need time for reflection. When we slow down and think carefully about best practice, the best ideas come. The opportunity to talk with collegues only makes the experience better.

  3. Thanks for your time, Shelley! I think you sy it all when stating that "we don't need more stuff!" Time to communicate and share ideas and questions has helped me grow as a professional here at Seaview.

  4. Maybe I should have had one of Steve's criteria checklists for my previous entry. I would have checked over my work for spelling. sy = say.