Sunday, May 31, 2015

Awareness, Action, Assess, Adjust

Pete Hall & Alisa Simeral TEACH, REFLECT, LEARN—Building Your Capacity For Success in the Classroom

The end of our school year is quickly coming to a close. With just weeks to go, my email inbox seems to be innovated with reflective surveys from partnerships, district support staff, publishers, and colleagues. There is no doubt each of these tools would provide insightful data and possibly new thinking to support our prioritized school-wide goals. Although with limited time left I want to be mindful of selecting the resource that supports the thinking of, what we do in our classroom matters.

High on my list is the instructional reflection tool in the book, Teach, Reflect, Learn.  The authors Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral have developed a continuum for teacher's ongoing reflection to support the heart of their work, providing high quality reflective instruction collaboratively developed by teacher teams.  In summary, work smarter not harder, in collaboration not isolation, by closing the knowing doing gap, and "building our capacity for success". Great teachers take charge in their own professional learning by improving their impact with what research tells us is most effective--teacher quality.

Many researchers have prioritized teacher quality in their life's work.  John Haiti's "Know thy impact!" and Richard DuFour & Robert Marzano stated,"Schools must utilize strategies that result in more good teaching in more classrooms more of the time" (2011). "And since yielding high levels of student learning is our ultimate goal, our collective charge right now is to improve our professional practice" (Hall & Simeral p.13).

Hall & Simeral created The Reflective Self-Assessment Tool for educators "to be thoughtful, intentional and reflective about your practice" (p. 21). Using the Self-Assessment "propels us forward" by identifying "four components that are critical to clarifying how we think and how our thinking affects our professional performance".

Reflective practitioners:
Have awareness of their instructional realities.
Are intentional in their actions.
Accurately assess their impact.
Adjust their actions on-the-fly.

The authors encourage teachers to take the six-week challenge to build an awareness of where they fit on the Continuum of Self Reflection. Although the authors do caution it is important to remember we never really finish. "As we develop and strengthen our skills and habits, we flow along the Continuum of Self-Reflection" (p. 42). The power is when we are honest in our awareness.  "We start with becoming introspective and building awareness of what we know and what we don't know" (p. 47). Our learning comes from the road we travel, not crossing the finish line.

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