Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rewind, Reflect, Redesign - OUR Ideas are better than YOURS and MINE

The inspiration for writing this entry comes from a recent conversation I had with a teacher.   Last week, she expressed concern that some of her students were struggling to grasp a specific concept.  I'm happy to say that despite some frustration, instead of blaming her students for failing to understand the concept, she was questioning aspects of her own practice.
As we talked, it was clear that she was rewinding her recent lessons and reflecting on the informal formative assessments she had conducted. By the end of our conversation she didn't have all the answers, but she did walk away with some ideas.  She continued to contemplate these ideas before redesigning her next lesson to ensure that she met her kids where they were.

A few days later she said "I have to tell you something great! They get it now.  My students really understand it."  Her assessments definitely supported what she said!  While it was obvious that she was very excited for her students' success, I was equally excited for her success.

While this is a celebration of a committed, caring teacher experiencing success with her students, it also points to an important process of what I call rewinding, reflecting and redesigning. What improved the process in this case is that rather than conduct the process in isolation, we worked through it together.  I credit this teacher with having the courage to share her concerns and frustrations with me.  It was her initiative that led to some powerful professional dialogue and ultimately to gains in her students’ learning. 

Teachers all have busy schedules and a myriad of responsibilities.  It’s easy to use a lack of time as an excuse to continue with the status quo. However, if we place a priority on student learning, we must also make the time to rewind, reflect and redesign collaboratively.

As school-based administrators, we also have busy days.  A day can easily be consumed fighting fires, dealing with the immediate issues of the day and simply trying to keep our heads above water.  And once all of the fires are extinguished, the pressing issues have been dealt with and the dust has settled, ultimately what will we have accomplished? Will we have taken any steps towards improving student learning?  Probably not.  At best, we will just have managed to maintain the status quo.

Each of us has a vision for how we can improve student learning. Realizing this vision requires forward progress.  And as we all know, change is not easy. The path to realizing a vision is never simple. It requires planning, commitment, hard work, patience and coordination in order to generate positive momentum. It often takes unexpected twists and turns.  And so, it is important that we too, collaborate with our colleagues and stakeholders as we rewind, reflect and redesign.  After all, OUR ideas are better than YOURS and MINE.

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