Saturday, August 22, 2009

The First Week Back For Teachers

Greer teachers have been back for almost a week and we have been busily getting ready for the return of our students on Tuesday, August 25.  Most of our time has been spent just getting the building ready because about half of our teachers were unpacking from renovations etc.  We have spent some time together as a staff though putting our direction forward for the school year.

This year, as part of our learning about Expeditionary Learning, we have formed a new committee structure set up around the EL Core Practice Benchmarks.  The five benchmarks are:
1.  Learning Expeditions
2. Active Pedagogy
3. Character and Culture
4. Leadership and School Improvement
5. Structures

Since we are just in the learning stage about EL, teachers will not be implementing learning expeditions this year.  Our seven committees will have the following focus:
1.  Active Pedagogy- Reading Focus
2. Active Pedagogy- Writing/Content Integration Focus
3. Active Pedagogy- Math and Technology Focus
4. Character and Culture- Student Focus
5. Character and Culture- Community Focus
6. Leadership and School Improvement- Decision Making
7. Structures- Communication

What we did first with the help of our EL school designer, Ken Ferguson, was have teachers learn about the EL core practice benchmarks through some building background knowledge activities.  Then teachers rated which committee they would want to serve on for the year and we started meeting with some framing questions provided by Lisa and I.  The committees will meet again on Monday to continue their work and share out with staff.  One of our "late" days each month will be dedicated to committee work.

These committees will each serve the various roles as think tank groups, prof. development planners, and "getting things done" folks for projects in the school.  These committees will involve all staff members in the school.

This is hardly revolutionary thinking or "innovative" (by the way, the word innovation is coming oh so close to jumping the shark it is not even funny).  Most schools have some sort of committee structure.

Some lingering questions remain for me with this structure:

How do committees communicate to each other?
If everyone is involved, how do we deal with folks who really don't want to be a part of things, or get in the way of movement forward?  
How do we keep from committee balkanization i.e. committees bumping into each other or getting in the way of each other's work?
How do decisions get made in the long run and short run?

I will keep you updated but there was an awesome energy in the building this week and in open house Thursday night.

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