Professional Practice

  • With a generous grant from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Newton Public School staff developed video resources aimed at demonstrating reflective practice in action. The videos document three teacher teams, functioning as Professional Learning Communities, collaborating to refine standards-based lessons in elementary writing, middle school math and high school science. The videos are divided into segments that highlight:

    prof prac The teams planning the lesson, integrating standards, and identifying expectations for student learning
    One member of the team presenting the lesson while the team members and evaluator observe
    The team reflecting on the lesson and providing feedback to their colleague on their observations of the lesson and whether intended results were achieved
    An evaluator facilitating a reflective discussion with the instructor and providing feedback.
    Links are provided to the lessons, standards, student work, and discussion protocols. We thank the teacher teams, host schools, and students for their patience, enthusiasm, dedication, and willingness to share their practice. We also thank Active Communications, our production team, for their thoughtful and sensitive professionalism.

    Professional Learning Communities in the Newton Public Schools
     
    “Teaching is an act of thoughtfulness. That is, teaching means being continuously thoughtful about how to support the learning of others, as well as our own. Thoughtful teachers engage in reflective practice as a way to think about their teaching and about ways to continually develop and implement curriculum that is personally meaningful and culturally relevant to students.”[1] 
    The number one goal in the Newton Public Schools is to improve achievement for all students. We believe that one of the most powerful ways to improve student learning is for teachers to work together – planning instruction, looking at resulting student work, evaluating assessment data, and reflecting on practice. We have worked to support the collaboration of teachers with professional development and by developing school schedules that include time for teacher teams to meet weekly. These video clips record three of our many teacher teams as they work together on instruction.
     
    In The Power of Teacher Teams[2], Katherine Boles and Vivian Troen identify five conditions that lead to effective teacher teams:
    • Task focus – team meetings are directed toward improving student learning
    • Collaborative climate – team uses processes that encourage diverse perspectives and measures success of the team by improved student performance
    • Structures and processes – team follows effective meeting practices and adjusts plans to reflect the needs of students
    • Distributed leadership – team distributes roles strategically and deliberately builds each member’s capacity to lead
    • Personal accountability – members come prepared and on time; members give and receive both positive comments and constructive feedback for improvement.
    As you watch these video clips, look for examples of each of the five conditions, and look for instances where closer adherence to one or more of the five conditions might have improved the outcome.
     
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    Funded by a grant from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education under the Professional Practice Innovation program

    1. Teachers as Reflective Practitioners: Examining Teacher Stories of Curricular Change in a 4th Grade Classroom William P. Bintz, Kent State University; Jill Dillard, Forest Hills School District Cincinnati, Ohio Reading Horizons Journal, 2007, 47, (3)
    2. Troen, Vivian and Katherine C. Boles 2012 The Power of Teacher Teams Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, CA