Leadership magazine March/April 2018 V47 No. 4 | Page 37

“ Did the students learn what I intended them to learn ?”
5 . Plan for new learning based on results of the analysis and begin the refined implementation phase again .
Phase one : Awareness
In phase one of implementation we simply become aware of the paradigm or the new concept to be implemented . The learner listens , takes notes and participates in the learning , gaining insight and understanding of an instructional practice to be implemented . In the best staff development sessions , this learning is grounded in four quadrants : 1 ) theory , 2 ) context , 3 ) content and 4 ) structure .
The theory tells us why we need to commit to implementing the strategy . Context helps us to see how the new strategy fits into the schema or the existing patterns in the classroom . Each and every time that teachers come to be trained , it is important that they develop a deeper understanding of the content they are teaching . And the structure in which the concepts are developed makes ideas and notions become complete , concrete procedures that can be replicated .
Without structure , it is virtually impossible to replicate complex strategies across systems in a similar fashion . When we create professional development sessions , checking for the development of these four elements within the session is essential .
Phase two : Organization
After a learning session , time must be spent by teachers organizing what they have learned . The organization is laid out in three layers :
1 . Recall : The learner recalls what they just heard . This is a low level of thinking according to Bloom ’ s taxonomy and yet very necessary to check one ’ s understanding . Simply put , the learner must put the learning into a summary in their own language . This can be done orally , mentally or in writing .
2 . Reorganize : The learner reorganizes the content according to their own schema or the context in which they work . Taking an account for what is already known , what is already in place and how the new learning fits is all a part of the reorganizing .
3 . Create a plan : The learner creates a plan to implement the new strategy in their classroom . Hence , developing a procedure and routine . The learner mentally rehearses what they have learned . This layer could be likened to an actor learning his or her lines for a play .
We must structure time for teachers to engage in these three layers , helping them to process and consider deeply the initiative to be implemented .
Phase Three : Approximation
This phase is the dress rehearsal . The teacher tries the strategy out with their own class in their own way . Brian Cambourne , who developed a model outlining conditions of learning , calls this “ giving it a try .” As teachers utilize a new strategy , they are focusing on how the process is working . Is the content comprehensible to the students ? Are the students learning more efficiently , and is my instruction more effective ? Do I have a handle on the content that I am trying to deliver ?
Phase four : Reflection
After teachers try the new strategy or procedure , we must provide time for active reflection . This is not a time to casually consider whether the lesson went well or poorly . Nor is this a time to wistfully recount the lesson or random student interactions . Rather , the purpose of reflection is to actively analyze the lesson and the model the teacher learned in phase one .
1 . The question becomes , how closely did the lesson come to the model that was learned in phase one ?
2 . How smoothly was the process executed ? Were there rough areas in the presentation of material that need to be smoothed out ? Was the timing and the flow of the lesson appropriate and efficient ?
3 . As the checking for understanding occurred , did the students respond with optimum learning ? How was checking for understanding done and was there evidence that the content was adequately learned ?
4 . What were the learning outcomes that were desired and were the students able to attain those outcomes ?
In actively considering these four reflective areas in a structured way , corrections can be made to the approximation to more closely match the desired model .
Phase five : Refined implementation
After we give it a try and we enter into deep reflection , we now refine the implementation in a continuous improvement framework . The work of refined implementation is best accomplished through work with colleagues in a format such as a professional learning community .
The framework has the following components , as reflected in the elements outlined in Rick DuFour ’ s book “ Professional Learning Communities at Work ”:
1 . Examine data to determine points that must be highlighted during instruction .
2 . Plan instruction to be reflective of the initial professional development , taking into consideration the improvements noted during the structured reflection . 3 . Teach the lesson carefully . 4 . Assess during the lesson to check for understanding , and administer an assessment to check the final learning of content pieces .
5 . Analyze assessment results . After teaching , the professional learning community reconvenes to analyze strengths and weaknesses of the instructional model to make corrections as planning for the next set of instructional events occur .
To ensure careful implementation and sustaining of new strategies in all classrooms , it is essential to lead teachers through all five of these phases of implementation . All too often , teachers attend professional development sessions and return to the classroom with no change to the delivery or method of instruction .
We see some teachers , referred to as “ early adopters ,” who are eager and capable . The number of these teachers on any given school staff is usually relatively small . The careful application of this conceptual framework will go far in ensuring that all teachers adopt the most powerful strategies and methodologies for each student in our schools .
Sue Kaiser is assistant superintendent of educational services in Monrovia USD and Region 15 representative to the ACSA Board of Directors .
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