Friday, February 25, 2005

Actions to Take

In addition to whatever further study is going on with data, I think it’s important to take some action that we believe might spur student improvement through teaching and / or get people working on the problem themselves. What I mean is that the action does not have to be the exactly right action (as if we knew what that was) but it should stir things ups – get people doing something new with their students or get teachers to create new solutions as they help us all address this issue.

From Heifetz: “…with adaptive problems [complex, not solved via some technical fix], authority must look beyond authoritative solutions. [However] authoritative action may usefully provoke debate, rethinking, and other processes of social learning, …then it becomes a tool in a strategy to mobilize adaptive work toward a solution , rather than a direct means to institute one.”

So, what I would like to do is send out another set of practices to norm in Explorations. 3 are procedures or systems that could affect instruction and 1 is directly about instruction or the interaction between teacher and student.

Mentor meetings: Ideally there should be 3 check ins with mentors over the course of a quarter: opening, middle and end meeting. We need to help develop structures for each of these. In the meantime, this quarter each crew leader should have the 3 time meeting with at least one mentor (of an undercredited 11th grader) and at least one check in with the other mentors. These can be a mix of visits and phone calls. Ideally everyone should be visited at least once.

Learning Plans: Everyone should have learning plans by now. What’s important is to check that students are aware of them, that there’s purpose behind the projects listed and that there’s an apprenticeship connected project on each one. This can be checked in a massive SAMs effort in one week. If each SAMs picked one Explorations room and did a check in: physically check learning plans, interview students present about apprenticeship and purpose, and bring notes back to meeting so we can collect and respond to data.

Grids: Al will create a short form on which crew leaders report the projects completed as reflected on the grid. This will be turned into “credits” for internal monitoring purposes. For example, if Yvonne needs 8 credits a semester to get back on track for graduation then she needs 4 credits this quarter. In 8 weeks that’s a half credit per week. We can see if she’s on track if she completed enough projects (even if they are spread out over various subjects) to equal a half credit (equivalent of one intersection). This should be monitored weekly.

Conferencing: I think many crew leaders already meet 1:1 with their students and often push them to do something more in terms of activity. We should add that, if it’s not already being done, there is some instructional component to each conference. What specifically is the crew leader doing to push their thinking, capturing that thinking and leading to conceptual development with regards to performance expectations? Crew leaders should keep a record of this to be checked.

Those are the four authoritative actions. I’m interested in feedback but only in the spirit of getting into action NOT delaying it. We have had the undercredited 11th graders on our radar since December 14th (my notes from assignment 7). Less talking about it and more doing so we can then talk about and analyse the doing.

“Talking does not cook rice.” Chinese proverb


1 comment:

SAM said...

I have boiled down these "actions to take" into a one-page memo. For the sake of space and to limit quantity of recommendations, I did not include the push to meet with mentors. That can be put out in a future memo and/or discussed in Explorations meetings.

These actions need to be communicated clearly to staff. Follow up support work needs to be done (explaining learning plans, grids, conferencing) and follow up monitoring work needs to be done.

How quickly or slowly will it be before we have data on how many kids have learning plans? How many credits per kid are being attempted as reflected on grids? How many conferences are occurring with scaffolding moves?

These three items are in the actions taken and will be put out today on Sunday February 27. Let's count the days and see what is the nature of the delay.