Building Collaborative Communities “Smurals” Small Rural Schools Teacher Network Smurals Julie Fram-Greig & Damian Curley IDC Presentation February 2008
Objectives of the workshop: Building Collaborative Communities • Understanding the principles of a Professional Learning Community • Evolution and development of Smurals • Strategies and techniques • Reflections and future directions • Test
Placemat Activity What words can help you describe a professional learning community?
Professional Learning Community • 3 “Big Ideas”: • Ensuring that all students learn • Culture of collaboration • Focus on results • 4 “Big Questions”: • What do we want each student to learn? • How will we know when each student has learned it? • How we will respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning? • How will we respond when they already know it? (DuFour & Eaker)
Professional Learning Community 6 core principles: • a culture of collaboration • shared mission, vision and values • collective inquiry into best practice • action orientation • continuous improvement • a focus on results (DuFour & Eaker, 1998)
Small schools: 3 – 7 teachers in each Most teachers with under 2 years experience Some key teachers (experience and expertise) High % of high risk students Isolated geographically & professionally Struggling with implementation of QEP Board mandated PD Lack of funding to send teams of teachers Lack of common PD days with other WQ schools Smurals Environmental Scan
Smurals Year 1: 2003-04 Smurals St. Michael’s Queen Elizabeth Poltimore
Smurals Year 1: • Learning Focus • Collaboration • Planning & delivery • Building Relationships • The “Getting to know you” stage & food! • Structure • Voluntary, after school, 4 sessions • Support • No financial support but support of administrators
What is Collaboration? A systematic process in which we work together, interdependently, to analyze and impact professional practice in order to improve our individual and collective results. - DuFour, DuFour, Eaker
Reflection on Year 1 • Response to a need • Fun & Informal • Principal Led • Added on • No shared vision • Discussions on common concerns
Smurals Year 2: 2004-05 St. Michael’s Queen Elizabeth Smurals Poltimore Maniwaki
Learning Focus Developing our Mission, Vision & Values QEP and lesson design study Building Relationships Potlucks & volleyball- collegiality is important Structure Working in small groups, voluntary, full days Support PDIG grant, support by administrators Smurals Year 2:
Creating a Vision: Brainstorming activity • PSTB- Problem Solving Team Building • Steps: • Identify the problem • Clarify the problem • Ideas- one per sticky, all ideas welcome- think big • ? Post-it- clarify any ideas • Sort & Categorize ideas- whole group, or a few people/ or walk about • Clarify categories • Action area- focus on one area and a few strategies listed as solutions to the problem • Reaching consensus on what our goals and values should be allows everybody to have a voice and take ownership
Shared Mission: To improve student achievement To enhance staff development within a professional learning community • Vision: • develop a community of learners (administrators, teachers and students) • common focus: planning & delivery of QEP • recentralization of relevant PD • job-embedded professional development • share expertise and resources (Admin. & teachers)
Values/Ethos: “ Our Guiding Principles” • Participation of administrators (keep the pieces together) • Encourage professional growth • Foster open communication & consensus • Instill a spirit of collective inquiry, collaboration & reflective practice • Optional attendance, committed participation • Evolve and adapt over time • Cultivate ownership & develop shared leadership
GoalsWhat actual changes & Learning will take place when the project is successfully implemented? • Teacher continuity • Teachers visiting teachers (support network) • Produce, share and teach cross-cycle units • Reduce isolation - build relationships & teamwork • Shared leadership • Engage expertise & identify and build a strengths inventory • Increase craft knowledge • Administration team network
Reflection on Year 2 • Relinquishing control & patience • Goals too complex • Develop units, teachers observing teachers • Not enough trust yet • High School/Elementary Collaboration • Budget constraints – growth plan • Teacher leaders emerging • Principals working together • Collegial not collaborative – norms needed to be set
Collaboration Hand in Hand, We All Learn … Ultimately there are two kinds of schools: learning enriched schools and learning impoverished schools. I have yet to see a school where the learning curves…of the adults were steep upward and those of the students were not. Teachers and students go hand in hand as learners.. or they don’t go at all.Roland Barth
Four Corners- Reflective Activity Which animal are you like…. When you buy groceries on a Saturday morning at Loblaws? When you work in a small group of colleagues? When you are trying to decide where to go for dinner? When you participate in a staff meeting? When you need to reach consensus in a group? When you are not consulted? When someone is speaking too much at a meeting?
Collegiality Experimentation High expectations Trust and confidence Tangible support Appreciation & recognition Caring celebration and humor Involvement in decision making Protection of what’s important Traditions Honest & open communication Healthy Cultural NormsSaphier & King in R. Barth’s The Culture Builder
Smurals Year 3: 2005-06 Onslow Elementary K-6 Poltimore Elementary K-6 St. Michael’s High School Smurals Queen Elizabeth Elementary K-6 Maniwaki K-11
Smurals Year 3: • Learning Focus • Long-term curriculum planning, UbD, DotPlan • New report card • Building Relationships • Structure • Global PD days; collaborative unit planning • meet in Cycle teams to discuss new report card • Support • PDIG money, admin team
1. Have a essential question to guide the activity: What do you need to know more about to implement the QEP? 2. Brainstorm a list of all the ideas on post-it notes- post them up, walk about and clarify 3. Use the dot stickers to vote for the ideas that you believe to be the most important to you 4. Vote individually 5. Put up to 3 stickers on any one item- use all 10 (May need to reduce the number of ideas then vote again) 6. Determine the top 3-5 ideas- they become priorities Q-Sort Activity: Steps
Reflection on Year 3 • Most productive year: action oriented and collective inquiry • Responding to the needs of teachers • Increased teacher leadership • Cycle teams • Using our “experts”
Smurals Year 4: 2006-07 Buckingham Poltimore Elementary Onslow Elementary K-6 Smurals St. Michael’s High School Dr. Wilbert Keon School K-11 Queen Elizabeth Elementary K-6 Maniwaki K-11
Participants Smurals Year 4: 2006-2007 • 8 Schools: • 5 Elementary schools: Queen Elizabeth, Poltimore, Onslow, Buckingham, St. John’s • 2 K- 11 schools: Maniwaki, Dr. W. Keon • 1 High school: St. Michael’s • Partners: • Hull Adult Education Center, Kitigan Zibi, Pontiac H.S., Symmes Jr. H.S.
Smurals Year 4: • Learning Focus • Going deeper into design, delivery and assessment • Building Relationships • Schools visiting schools, students’ collaboration • More schools participating • Structures • Teacher leadership • Support • Supported by board, collaborative PDIG writing
CBAM: Concerns-Based Adoption Model • Model for change in individuals • Holds that people considering and experiencing change evolve in the kinds of questions they ask and in their use of whatever the change is. “The strength of the concerns model is in its reminder to pay attention to individuals and their various needs for information, assistance, and moral support” “Being aware of the concerns allows those in charge of the innovation to tailor aid given to individuals”
Typical Expressions of Concern about an Innovation Levels of Use of the Innovation: Typical Behaviors
Reflection on Year 4 • Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) • Growing relationships amongst teachers • Changes in schools • Who is going to lead?? • Size of group & dynamic • Plateau of activity…
Smurals Year 5: 2007-08 St. John’s Elementary Buckingham Poltimore Elementary Smurals Onslow Elementary K-6 St. Michael’s High School Dr. Wilbert Keon School K-11 Queen Elizabeth Elementary K-6 Maniwaki K-11
Participants Smurals Year 5: 2007-2008 Smurals • 8 Schools: • 5 Elementary schools: Queen Elizabeth, Poltimore, Onslow, Buckingham, St. John’s • 2 K- 11 schools: Maniwaki, Dr. W. Keon • 1 High school: St. Michael’s
Smurals Year 5: • Learning Focus • Competency development & new report card- again! • Building Relationships • Maintaining…. • Structures • Planning Committee involving admin & teachers • Support • Within Smurals and WQSB “experts”
Reflection on Year 5 • Key core leadership • Teachers involved in Smurals Planning Committee • Continue CBAM • Lost momentum…is it embedded in culture?
Future Directions Smurals • Administrator / Teacher Leader team for planning of sessions • Secure funding sources and common calendar • Revisit vision and goals • Cycle of reflective practice: collaborate to develop common assessment tools inform instruction focus on results observe one another planning together
Lessons Learned Smurals • Core leadership is key • Relinquishing control • Adapting organisational structure (eg. new school/teachers, timeline, planning to meet needs of teachers, financial support) • High school & elementary collaboration • Time for reflection -CBAM • Patience & set short-term goals remembering purpose • Develop shared vision • Reflect on principles of PLC
From the Teachers Smurals “I like the way SMURALS has helped me grow as a teacher. Observing others teach their lessons has helped me pick up new strategies for teaching. Collaborative assessment design, especially the work with rubrics, has helped me as a teacher. Also, our connection with other teachers has continued outside SMURALS.” ~Alana Albert
From the Teachers Smurals “SMURALS has helped me meet other teachers. You know you’re not alone…” ~Nadine Reason “SMURALS is a great network that gets teachers together to grow as professionals. Without SMURALS, teachers from small schools are isolated. I am very grateful and feel I have become a part of many schools, not just my own.” “The focus of SMURALS on innovations has helped me personally and professionally in my teaching practice. It has been a collaborative way for me to reflect upon how I teach my students! I believe that it has been a form of self- evaluation that has been extremely beneficial for all teachers involved; i.e. for new teachers as well as experienced teachers.”
From the Teachers Smurals “I like the opportunity to share ideas with other teachers from small schools. It’s allowed us to collaborate with teachers in our cycle and to hear other perspectives.” “SMURALS has given me an opportunity to grow professionally. I was able to learn, discuss issues, analyse students’ work, work with the curriculum and assessment in a safe environment.” “The gene pool is bigger!”
Jigsaw Activity Smurals You are going to work together to build a PLC puzzle. • Pick a puzzle piece • Find 5 other people with different quotes to build your PLC puzzle • Read all the quotes • Which core principles do each of the quotes represent?