Notes from text
Boudett, City, Murnane
Chapter 5: Examining Instruction
Reframe the learning problem as a "problem of practice". It should:
-include learning and teaching
-be specific and fine-grained
-be a problem within the school's control
-be a problem that, if solved, will mean progress toward some larger goal
There are four main tasks to help you investigate instruction and articulate s problem of practice:
1. Link learning and teaching: With this particular learning problem, how does instruction impact what students learn?
2. Develop the skill of examining practice: How do we look at instructional data?
3. Develop a shared understanding of effective practice: What does effective instruction for our learning problem look like and what makes it effective?
4. Analyze current practice: What is actually happening in the classroom in terms of the learning problem, and how does it relate to our understanding of effective practice?
If teachers don't fundamentally believe that their teaching can make a difference for student learning, then it's going to be difficult to convince them to change their teaching.
When planning opportunities for teachers to link learning and teaching, consider these points:
-How will you move the conversation from "students/parents/poverty" to "teachers"?
-How will you frame the work as an opportunity to improve instruction, rather than as a failure (proactive vs. reactive)?
-How will you help teachers have a questioning rather than a defensive stance?
-How will you surface and get people to acknowledge the fundamental assumption that teaching matters for learning?
Components of examining practice:
1. Evidence, data about teaching
2. Precise, shared vocabulary
3. Collaborative conversation with explicit norms
Hearing others' responses to the same lesson helps challenge individual assumptions, helps us notice different things and see the same things Ina new way, and leads to a better understanding of the practice observed.
We need a vision for what [this] effective teaching looks like so we can assess whether what we're doing now fits or doesn't fit that vision.
When looking internally to develop ideas of effective practice, the key is too ground the discussion in evidence.
Connecting best practices to data serves multiple purposes: it increases the likelihood that the practice is effective rather than simply congenial; it reinforces the discipline of grounding all conversations about teaching and learning in evidence rather than generalities or assumptions; it's more persuasive-teachers are more likely to try something for which there's evidence that it works; and it reinforced the link between learning and teaching.
Inquiry is essential in developing a shared understanding of effective practice because you want everyone to understand not only what effective practice for the leaning problem looks like but why it is effective.
Three questions to consider when making decisions about how to examine instruction are:
1. What data will answer your questions about teaching practice in your school?
2. What are teachers ready for and willing to do?
3. What are your resources, including time?