Monday, September 6, 2010

Leverage Point Series: Introduction

Over the next weeks, I'll post a series that highlights the most important lessons learned while providing staff development to teachers. This ongoing evolution of lessons learned targets ways to LEVERAGE results from the challenges we face.

You don't have to be in education long to recognize how time, specifically a lack thereof, influences much of what we do. This is especially true with professional development. Knowing what it takes to improve teaching, the lack of time often forces us into training situations we do not prefer.

But sometimes challenges like this help us find solutions we would not have found in more ideal situations. It is precisely the frustration created by a lack of time that makes me continually challenge and discover what is important, how certain teaching strategies reinforce each other, how some content strategies also teach reading, how all teachers can easily support writing without taking more time, how teachers can feel confident trying a new strategy in a short time, and more.

As we continue, we'll see how teacher-created "materials of practice" benefit teachers, students, and stakeholders while defining and improving instruction. Focusing on students who do not understand, we will see how designing research-based materials expand the circle of understanding in classrooms, which leaves fewer students needing individual plans. We will talk about how instructional design should first focus on the beginning of a lesson or reading assignment, because richer ideas and deeper understanding created here will create better understanding throughout. And we will talk about how every teacher can easily teach reading and writing while becoming better teachers of their own content.

It's true, there is not enough time. And trying something new usually ends up being harder than we anticipated. But we just keep trying and we find ways to get it done.

You do not have to wait to discuss ways to overcome the challenges to implementing the best of what we know about teaching and learning. Write anytime (