Sunday, March 27, 2005

WHAT'S UP WITH US?

Al Writes:

Folks,

I’m feeling like we are not acting like a team, nor are we sticking to what we say we’re going to do. I feel like we are together as a team building the k’nex tower in class and then become a bunch of independent operators when we are running the school. Here are some reasons why I think this:

  1. We said we were going to work on the undercredited 11th graders because we believed that all of our students were similarly undercredited (i.e. the 11th graders weren’t any different than any other group of kids in the school). Yet we are beginning to set up structures and practices that address the symptom of the 11th graders, instead of the disease of undercrediting (i.e. we want to start afterschool and Saturday times – some of them classes targeting performance expectations – for the 11th graders, a proposal for teaching a class during the day for the 11th graders, etc) How does this help the undercredited 9th and 10th graders? If our numbers hold true there are 85% of the 9th and 10th grade that are undercredited too! (BTW, what’s up with all the “offer classes” solutions?)
  2. In a very long meeting at the region, we said we were going to work on conferencing and grid use as leverage points to crediting. We set up the conferencing groups but then have done almost no work with them. We introduced a grid tracking sheet and then have ignored its existence for a week and a half. Now I’m just as guilty as everyone else. But what are we doing that keeps us from working on this?
  3. We have committed to conversations about the staff attendance problem. They haven’t happened. Why?
  4. Frenchy seems to be isolated. We aren’t making sure he’s with us. Just like last class, we aren’t making sure that all the members of our team are able to speak as clearly and concisely as each member of the group. Why?

I’m sure that folks could add or subtract from this list. As well, I’m sure y’all could point out how I’ve actively taken part in the aforementioned dysfunction. True, true…

The point is that I’m worried we are slipping into our old isolationist habits. (Did we ever really break them?) I think we have to figure out some way to pull together, concentrate our efforts and hold each other accountable before the year’s over. I personally do not expect Michael back in the school this year. And if we continue to fracture without him there day-to-day, I think we’ll be in a very bad spot at the end of the year.

What do you all think?

Peace,
Al

2 comments:

SAM said...

Response to Item 1. I agree with the short sightedness of reacting directly to the undercredited 11th graders. This subgroup is our sample. It's analogous to pulling out a dozen deer from the forest and studying them to infer what is going on with the total deer population. If 25% are sick we assume that reflects the population. We then come up with solutions that will affect the population. We don't send the 25% to the wild animal vet and when cured say problem-solved. It abandons the whole population. It's a feel good measure that makes no systemic difference. We must stay focused on solutions that affect the whole school NOT let ourselves feel good because of some immediate treatment of the sample group.

Here's my big problem with the after school proposal. Who will do it? No one has been successful at helping the kids during the day. Why would such a staff member be successful after school? I think we need to focus on improving the staff's ability NOT giving the students extra stuff to do.

Michael

SAM said...

Response to Item 2.
The biggest danger here is to abandon the grids or conferencing when we haven't even seen it through a full cycle of implementation. A full cycle would include at least collecting information on conferencing quality and quantity and correlate to credit accumulation as reflected on grids. Ideally, we should have a few weeks of this.

At this time, we do not have one cycle completed (forget about three weeks.) And, as often happens in an organization, we're talking about doing new things or abandoning agreed upon measures when we have no evidence of the efficacy of our initial measures.

Michael