Thursday, December 2, 2010

Drop Everything and Work Together

At Bayview Elementary, the educators have made a commitment to find time for teachers to work together. They've found the time where they already had it: all students begin their day with "DEAR" (Drop Everything and Read). During that time, teachers meet while the two student support teachers, Aboriginal teacher, principal and counsellor take over the classes, settling students in for the day, checking in with them, connecting, and giving them the time to leave behind the bustle and chaos of home to transition into their school day by quietly reading. And, of course, at the same time, they are valuing reading and allowing students to do what improves reading most - read!

On the day I visited, intermediate teachers Sooz, Phil, Courtenay and Jennifer jumped into conversation right away. They had just been writing report cards and took some time to debrief the experience (there had been a new format) and to check in about a few students. One teacher related a story of a student who had scored the winning point in volleyball at the last game. The rest of the teachers lit up with the news, for this was a girl they'd all worried about together for years. Sooz leaned over to me as the others learned the details, "We are like family here." You might think - well, what's that got to do with teaching and learning? The teachers didn't examine student work or share strategies or develop a lesson. Next time perhaps. But this time, when they leave the meeting, they'll each touch base with the girl who had a great volleyball game. And that girl will know she's cared about, that she's noticed, that what she does matters. Can you see her smile? Can you picture her doing one more problem during math? Do you hear her shush a friend when the teacher asks for silence? I'm guessing that the impact is at least as powerful as time spent learning a new strategy. Teaching and learning, surely, is built on a network of relationships. And we need to spend time together for that.

For more on our PLC series go to "If it's important" and "Seaview"

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