Sunday, February 14, 2010

Still Snowing

In Nebraska snow is still falling and I am wondering about friendships, projects and relationships. In a word back to our networks that become so established they are an integral part of who we are. As a type I found out that I like working in teams. But that is not enough, I like working in teams over long periods of time figuring out everybody's strengths, contributions. But maybe more than anything it is about growing our thinking together.
When I look at my work I have worked with individuals and schools districts over a long period of time.
With Kathy Wilson I have worked for 12 years now, Nancy and Monique- close to decade, the Nebraska Reading First crew- seven. I like this kind of work. It is close, almost intimate, it allows everyone to be engaged in different ways at different time points. And most of all it has space for growth and change over time. This IS professional development, the kind where everyone develops. In this work we are all participants, researchers, evaluators, teachers, developers.
For example, in my last visit to California (great again), one of the kindergarten teachers approached to talk about assessments. She said (I hope I will not misrepresent here) that she as a teacher had her own way of measuring student growth but last year she stopped and instead relied on our project measurement and was dissappointed to see little growth. She hypothesized that the problem was that our assessment required active vocabulary, students had to show kinds of lines without a directive prompt, she felt (justifiably) that vocabulary acquisition could also be assessed passively by asking student to produce through a prompt, e.g. "can you draw a jagged line?". I agreed that there is merit for that approach and then we followed up a discussion about levels of precision within a study and what to do next. This is a great example of a teacher thinking as a researcher and the researcher/evaluator getting a much better idea about classroom needs and perspectives.
Monique wrote in an email recently "You two [Guy and Nancy] have impacted my thinking about education so much in the last ten years." it is more than I deserve but in reality it is a two way street- Monique has impacted my thinking just as much (if not more).
 The link to art integration is clear- real integration can only emerge from sustained engagement, thinking AND socialization. It is just as much about relationships as it about achievement.
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