Thursday, March 26, 2015
Learning Can Make Your Head Hurt
I am lucky to work in a school district that values job-embedded professional development. This is evident in the fact that each of our four buildings has a literacy coach to think alongside teachers as they grow professionally.
I am one of those coaches.
Another way our district has provided job-embedded professional development is through a long-time relationship with Ellin Oliver Keene, author of several books about comprehension, including the classic Mosaic of Thought, which she co-wrote with Susan Zimmermann.
Over the past three years, Ellin's work in our district has focused on working with small groups of teachers in examining the gradual release of responsibility and student engagement as well as promoting literacy across the curriculum. As the coach, my responsibility in this process is in organizing the days Ellin is in our building, facilitating those days, and then providing support to teachers in between Ellin's visits.
I'm lucky. The teachers who work with Ellin are lucky. Our kids are lucky.
But, golly... these days are tiring. Ellin pushes my thinking; she helps me to see things in new ways. She encourages us to discuss problems of practice and find solutions together. I'm a better coach from having the opportunity to observe her coach our PD participants in their classrooms.
It makes me think about the students who are learning as well. Are they going home tired from thinking hard about the subjects and concepts we are presenting? Are they feeling challenged and validated? Do they understand why they are being asked to do the tasks and assignments we give them?
If not, why?