More on teaching as a profession...

Found some more conversation about teaching as a profession and the comparison to the medical field over on Jenny D. Seems some doctoral students were discussing the point and they have an interesting perspective:
But one of the conclusions was that teaching is measured (for whatever reason) by outcomes. Whereas other professions are not measured in only that way.

For example, physicians worry about process first. The correct process leads to the best outcome, so process is first. Physicians share a common language for discussing process and procedure.

Doctors who work with the sickest patients are often the most skilled doctors, and their outcomes are probably not as good as doctors who work with less sick patients. So measuring a doctor's skill might not be best done using outcomes.

It also goes on to mention some process orientated practices - such as Japanese lesson study - and ponders how we might begin to build a process orientated approach.

I don't know how others feel - but working in professional development - we try to integrate these "process" pieces into everything we do. In fact, at our regional curriculum meetings, we have begun to use a tuning protocol to guide our discussions of district and regional issues. Our hope is that something like "pay it forward" will happen - folks who work with and learn the protocol will then use it back in the district as part of their process, who will then use it in their buildings, where it might eventually translate into the classroom. Is that overly optimistic of me?

So we are trying to implement the process piece - but we seem to get stuck! Why is that? What is it about our educational systems keep us spinning in one place?

Annual Review: Ups and Downs

What is it? A strategy from “Data Driven Dialogue: A Facilitator’s Guide to Collaborative Inquiry” used to structure collaborative conversations about their programs and progress.

When would I use it? Since this strategy is designed to promote group reflection, this strategy is best at the midpoint or end of a project/program, upon the implementation of a new program, or when reflecting on the entire year. I used this to guide district teams in analyzing and reviewing their current AIS plans before we conducted a regional “swap meet.” My goal was to have them reflect on what was working in their plans that they wanted to share with others, but also to determine where they thought their plan needed improvement so that they could listen for or question their colleagues about how they were dealing with that particular issue.

Materials needed: Post-it notes (two different colors), chart paper, markers (a.k.a. the Staff Developer’s Toolkit!)

How does it work?
1. Individually, participants think of three high points related to the topic of the meeting. They write one idea on the same color post-it note, one idea per note.
2. Next, they think of three low points related to the topic. Again, they write each idea on a different color post-it note; one idea per note.
3. On the chart paper, draw a grid as shown in the picture above. Have participants post their “highs” and “lows” on the chart paper, rating them by degree (+1, +2, +3, -1, -2, -3).
4. As a group, review the wall graph. At this point, I veered from the protocol in the book and had participants try to categorize their post-its and group them. They then labeled the axis with those categories. (The book provides meditative questions instead).

Note: I posted additional photos of the grid and group work on my Flickr account.

Reflections: As I wandered the room touching base with each district group, there were very powerful conversations happening!! It was interesting to see that what some people thought were “high, “others had marked very low. It prompted some nice discussion and clarification of the issues. I thought it was helpful to have them categorize the post-it notes, as I know from previous experience that it seems that not everyone feels comfortable speaking up when questions are asked of the group. I felt that it promoted discussion and even deeper reflection of the AIS plans in this case.

Some groups wanted clarification of how to place their post-it notes on the grid – was the -1 the lowest of the low or the least of the low. When that came up, I explained that it didn’t matter to me, as long as it made sense to the group. I probably should have made that point more clearly to the groups, but it wasn’t a real focal point for me – the conversation was. If you prefer that all groups have the data grouped similarly for some reason, you might want to be a bit more explicit than I was!

Reference: Wellman, B. & Lipton, L. (2004). Data-Driven Dialogue: A Facilitator’s Guide to Collaborative Inquiry. Sherman, CT: MiraVia, LLC.

EPAA: Education Policy Analysis Archives

My new favorite work is snark. So, I begin this entry with the following snarky comment: If you don't have the good fortune to be enrolled in a graduate program, accessing educational research can be a pain. However, there are a vast number of resources available even without a student id. ASCD offers a daily summary of national educational headlines and regularly offers an Educational Research Brief. You probably remember ERIC from your college days – after a brief sabbatical, it’s back with even more full-text articles. (I always felt so research-y when I had to go request microfiche or microfilm while doing an ERIC search as an undergrad. I wonder if they even use those any more.)

Another resource that is actually a braoder electronic journal than its title implies is EPAA. EPAA: Education Policy Analysis Archives offers a comfortable and broad foray into educational research for both the novice and experienced educational researcher. Once you get past the sort of juvenile loading effects, the site is relatively simple and easy to navigate. For those who are bilingual, the Archives offer documents in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, on occasion. The editorial board is large and diverse (editors come from across the country - Harvard to UCLA) and all articles must go through the peer review proess.

The volumes are not thematic but a collection of a variety of articles in the three publication languages. The English articles in the most recent volume include:
Nichols, Glass & Berliner: High-Stakes Testing and Student Achievement: Does Accountability Pressure Increase Student Learning?
Successive Student Cohorts and Longitudinal Growth Models: An Investigation of Elementary School Mathematics Performance
Lustick, D. & Sykes, G.: National Board Certification as Professional Development: What Are Teachers Learning?
Young, I.P. & Miller-Smith, K.: Effects of a State Mandated Policy (Site-Based Councils) and of Potential Role Incumbents on Teacher Screening Decisions in High and Low Performing Schools.
Braun, H. I., Wang, A., Jenkins, F., & Weinbaum, E.: The Black-White achievement gap: Do state policies matter?
Howley, A., & Howley, C. B. (2006). Small schools and the pressure to consolidate.
Chatterji, M., Kwon, Y.A., & Sng, C. (2006). Gathering evidence on an after-school supplemental instruction program: Design challenges and early findings in light of NCLB.
Wright, W. E., & Choi, D. (2006). The impact of language and high-stakes testing policies on elementary school English language learners in Arizona.
Lubienski, S. T. (2006). Examining instruction, achievement, and equity with NAEP mathematics data.
Wenglinsky, H. (2006). On ideology, causal inference and the reification of statistical methods: Reflections on "Examining instruction, achievement and equity with NAEP mathematics data."
Lyons, J. E., & Algozzine, B. (2006). Perceptions of the impact of accountability on the role of principals.
Ragan, A., & Lesaux, N. (2006). Federal, state, and district level English language learner program entry and exit requirements: Effects on the education of language minority learners.

I did a quick search of the site using their search feature using “assessment design” and got several dozens articles – all of which appear to relevant. One, which I’m sure I’ll post in another entry – is titled “What Does the Psychometrician's Classroom Look Like?: Reframing Assessment Concepts in the Context of Learning.” You gotta love it.

The Web 2.0 is Coming! The Web 2.0 is Coming!

Will Richardson, Darren Kuropatwa, and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach announce the first annual “K12 Online 2006″ convention for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice. You can read more about this FREE! professional learning opportunity at any one of their sites linked above!!

Updates!! There is now a conference blog which can be found here!!