Friday, January 22, 2016

The Gift of Urgency

Urgency is often a gift. 
It can create both clarity and action.
- Mark Miller

When I started my teaching career, my dad would scoff about Teacher Professional Growth Days. I remember him saying, "I don't see cars in the parking lot... it's just another day off for teachers." Well Dad, today we had 300 teachers packed in at one school engaging in some of the most meaningful professional growth I have seen during my 16 years as an educator.

Starting our day was a call to action from the superintendent. After years of stagnant test scores, he emphasized that it is time to face our current reality. Students aren't succeeding academically. What work must be done to turn this around?

Five instructional systems were discussed: Coherent First Teaching, Intervention, Positive Behavior Support, Assessments, and Teacher Collaboration. These gears, when in sync, can create monumental shifts in the learning experience of students. So how do we get there? Through professional learning, principal leadership, and district leadership. 

After our call to action, teachers were placed in collaborative teams, K-8, to look at the mathematical and NGSS science and engineering practices and really dig in to understanding them. It wasn't about what lesson are we teaching tomorrow, but about how we engage students in deeper thinking, deeper questioning, and deeper problem solving. In every room, the conversations were powerful, engaging, and with the student in mind.


 

Something special is happening here today. I think one day down the road, when the gears are well oiled and working smoothly together, we'll look back and see this day as the day the shift happened. The day we embraced our gift of urgency and responded to the call to action.