2.7: Advice to Teachers and Principals
The teachers are asked for advice to teachers and principals who are trying to implement grade level meetings that are this focused and productive. The teachers’ responses indicate that a number of elements are needed: Principals must build trust among the staff and between the administration and the staff. But the administration must also make clear that they expect this sort of activity on an ongoing basis ("stay firm," one of the teachers says). Teachers must understand why they are doing this and be shown how it can help them and their students. They must also have the necessary guidance and assistance, from experts (e.g., Mia, the writing coach) and from each other, to know what strategies to try. The final comments from one of the grade level co-chairs encapsulate the support and pressure that is required—"you have to pull and push at the same time," she says, as if speaking to principals. Her final words: "It’s kind of that real delicate balance."
Interviewer What advice would you offer to an AALT rep or a principal who wants to get, what they just saw on the video now going on in their school, but they've not been able to get off the dime. What advice would you give them? Diana Try to build trust between the members of the group. You know, build the trust and between the administration that this is not a way being critical, it's a way of working for the good of the children and everyone involved. Yael I think staying firm because a lot of us, we're going in different directions saying, well I don't know if I can do this. I don't know if my children can do this- Ts Oh it's to hard (Multiple agreements) Yael I have model B. I have-- yeah, everyone felt like because of some situation to, personal to themselves, it may not work. And because administration was really firm with us and said, look this is what you need to do. So like it or not, do it. (Various agreements among the others.) You know and I, I was in the beginning giving my own exams and the exams that they were doing and then suddenly I went, wait a minute. As I saw the results, I was like wait, okay. I put all my results, all my exams away and now we're all using the same ones. So you're going to have rebellion in the beginning a little bit. Diana Exactly. Sandy I think too, the fact that we all are working as a group, like all the statistics are kindergarten, the whole team and that's how it's presented. We all want all of our kids to improve and so that's been a focus. It hasn't been broken down by track. It hasn't been broken down by teacher. It's been the K (emphasis) teachers, A, B, and C track. Diana Yeah, that's a big key. Mona We have to give a lot of things to our writing coach, Mia Robinson Ts (multiple agreements) Mona because she really comes into our meetings, um, weekly and she helps guide, she helps, you know, gives us guidance- Diana Gives us ideas and strategies. Mona --and gives us ideas and she presents strategies to us through videos, through paper forms, anything that she can do. Modeling. And I think she has been a tremendous help- Gerardo Yes she has. Mona --to organize us and to build that trust and to lead us in the right direction. Tina And I think we learn a lot from each other because we have the, we have like model A teachers working with model B teachers which makes it, I think, easier to see like you know maybe they understand our children better and we understand their children better and the way we can use different strategies too. (Various agreements.) Because I think it would be working only with the model B teachers and it would be 2 model B teachers. Maybe we're not trying as much or maybe we're not grasping as much as they do. And then we're not getting the opportunity to do so. Yael Even though we have different opinions, I think teachers probably (laughing) are the most opinionated people there are. But um- Diana Everybody wants to boss everybody. (laughs) Yael Everybody wants to have their say. So I think that you know one of things is just making everyone realizing it and staying firm. Saying, this is what we're doing, try it, and you can always change it, but let's try it. Diana But to administration I would also say, it's the same as in the classroom. It's the balance you've gotta pull and push at the same time. But not be too negative, you know. Because that shuts everything down, but not just let everything slide either because then it does slide. So it's kind of that real, delicate balance.