Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Strategic Conversations

Notes from the second day of the administrative conference.  This is a long post, but this is what principals were trained in.  I found it insightful into my own interactions as JEA President and as a Sixth Grade Teacher working within a PLC.
Guest speaker Dr. Robyn Johnson – mindstepsinc.com - @Robyn_mindsteps

Building Mastery
Challenges of leading
·         How do I give effective feedback that actually changes practice?
·         How do I effectively follow up with ineffective employees?
·         What do I do with an employee who won’t admit that s/he is ineffective?
·         What do I do about a person I really don’t believe can get better?
She believes any teacher can become a master teacher with the right support and practice.
She talked about her experience evaluating teachers and how they came to fear her, they would give a “performance” rather than show genuine teaching, and they weren’t improving based on feedback.
Will and Skill
·         Effectiveness is a result of both skill and their will
·         Will: a teacher’s motivation to do what is best for students, the school community, and the profession.
·         Skill:  a teacher’s capacity and ability to implement instruction effectively.  This includes both pedagogical and subject area knowledge.
Four Types of Teachers
·         Low will/low skill:  retired on job, collecting paycheck for little work, kids like these teachers for little work and low expectations
·         High will/low skill:  often newer teachers, love kids, enthusiastic, kids and parents like these teachers because they love kids, can become low will/low skill if not lead appropriately, if you build their skill they can become a high will/high skill
·         High will/high skill:  motivated, know what they’re doing, smart, love kids, good with kids, innovators, they transform students and/or school, most neglected as far as feedback goes, they want feedback especially positive feedback, growth is up to them, typically complain about working conditions, if not supported they become low will/high skill
·         Low will/high skill:  good teacher, knows how to pass evaluation, start mutiny, have union on speed dial, blames others, ones who refuse to do what they are asked, cannot evaluate them out, push back for sake of pushing back, were likely a high will/high skill at one point, if don’t support their skills will erode and they become low will/low skill
Teachers move within the types of teachers.  Change of assignment, change of administrator, life events, or different group of students, can cause teachers to move among the types throughout a day, a school year, or career.  This is not about good and bad teachers.  Helps principals know how to approach different types of teachers and what type of help to give them.
We believe in every child, every day, but something changes when we think about adults.  How can we believe in every child but not in every teacher?
What do you do if have low will/low skill teacher who gets better, but their reputation in the community is still low?  Constantly talk about how every teacher is moving toward mastery.  Show parents that every teacher is improving and growing.  Highlight changes that teachers have made in newsletter or on website. 
Systemic approach to excellence in the classroom so there isn’t a different expectation at another school. 
You cannot solve a WILL problem with a SKILL solution.  You cannot solve a SKILL problem with a WILL solution.                                 
JPAS Domains chart – Will/Skill

Will – Does the teacher . . .
Skill – Can the teacher . . .
Managing the classroom
Treat every student fairly?
Create a positive classroom culture?
Effectively manage student behavior?
Organize space for learning?
Delivering instruction
Demonstrate flexibility and responsiveness?
Communicate with students?
Use effective questioning techniques?
Provide engaging instruction?
Interacting with students
Encourage reluctant students?
Acknowledge learning efforts?
Check for understanding?
Provide effective feedback?
Submit lesson plans?
Plan for all students’ needs?
Demonstrate high expectations?
Design effective assessments?
Demonstrate an understanding of the curriculum?
Professional responsibilities
Reflect on teaching?
Contribute to a PLC?
Maintain accurate records?
Behave in a professional manner?

Four levels of skill
·         Novice
·         Apprentice
·         Practitioner
·         Master
Building skill
·         Differentiated practice

Skill level
Has minimal exposure/experience/expertise.
Needs to acquire a concrete understanding of what it takes to be a good teacher.
Is building expertise but still needs supervision.  Can perform some more routine tasks on their own.
Needs to internalize the standards and principles in order to become independent problem solvers and develop their own “teacher sense”.
Makes accurate and reliable judgments.  Teaching practice shows both skill and economy.  Can teach others.
Needs help integrating skills into a seamless performance and develop adaptive expertise.
Can deal with unusual and tough cases.  Judgments set best practice, standards, regulations, or ideal.  Practice is seamless.
Needs help remaining mindful in their practice.

·         Deliberate practice
o   Evaluation
o   Elaboration
o   Observation
o   Practice
o   Feedback
o   Coaching
o   Collaboration
o   Reflection

·         Developmental practice
o   Must pass through skill levels gradually by changing approach as move through levels.
o   Not going to be an expert immediately.
o   Novice – acquire
o   Apprentice – apply
o   Practitioner – assimilate
o   Master – adapt
§  Same rigor framework used for students
Four Will Drivers
·         Autonomy: I have some control over the things that matter to me.
·         Mastery:  I can get good at the things that matter to me.
·         Purpose:  I am involved in something that matters.
·         Belonging:  I am important to people who matter.
Each person has a different key will driver.  The other three can be in place, but if that key will driver is not met, the others won’t matter.  Need to know your own key will driver, because it impacts your relationship with others. 
Improving school wide – implementing changes
·         Explore – why, skills development (4-6 weeks)
·         Expect – checking to see if doing (3-4 weeks)
·         Evaluate – see at high quality based on feedback (6-8 weeks)
·         Extend – individualizing (ongoing)
Example:  Carolina High School
·         Administrative Training – needed to align feedback
·         Initial rigor PD for all staff
·         Differentiated PD based on four levels of teacher skill
·         Ongoing observations and discussions
·         Improved instructional quality
·         Common core implementation with fidelity
·         Improved test scores
Example:  Marion County, Florida
·         Administrator training on will and skill
·         Administrator training on strategic conversations
·         Increased fidelity among administrators with the observation tool
·         Increase quality in teacher feedback and significant teacher growth
Example:  Connecticut
·         Training on strategic conversations
·         Increased interaction and accountability
·         Increased follow up with struggling teachers
·         Increased administrator comfort with difficult conversations
Strategic Conversations for Instructional Leaders
Teachers tell you how they need to be led based on complaints, comments, or behavior.  These show their will diver. 
A series of targeted, individualized interactions with teachers that are designed to help them significantly improve their instruction.  Take into account their skill and their will and will driver.  Not one-sided.  Jointly working to solve a problem.
Why strategic conversations?
·         Engage teachers as partners
·         Create joint ownership over the problem and solution
o   Help teacher fix his/her own problem
·         Tap into shared knowledge and expertise
·         Gain cooperation rather than compliance
Match the conversation to each teacher's needs

Reflective conversation: help teachers make connections between their attitudes and approach and student achievement.
·         Low will/low skill: must reflect on something specific and concrete, may take several days, not a good starting place for these types of teachers High will/low skill: struggle with connection because they don't know enough, they want to answer the question but may not be able to make the connection High will/high skill: love these types of conversations Low will/high skill: help you (questioner) reflect, bounce ideas off this type of person and ask for their opinion, establish trust and start building on the topic, you need to be vulnerable first

Dr. Jackson referenced Brene Brown's The Power of Vulnerability video on YouTube and said that leaders must be vulnerable first.

Need to be reflective ongoing, not just after the evaluation.

Facilitating conversations: help teachers make commitments to improve their instructional practice.

·         Low will: this is place to start, may have to revisit multiple times to gain commitment, share data and give feedback and decide on commitment

Coaching conversations: help teacher make corrections to their teaching behaviors to improve student achievement Low will: commit to fixing before suggesting corrections High will/low skill: welcome this type of conversation, love coaching, be careful because they can become dependent on coaching High will/high skill: they will often come to you to ask for coaching, if not they will try to figure it out on their own

·         When coaching, give people two options to fix the problem then let the teacher choose. Can determine a viable third option.

Directive conversations: help teachers make changes in their teaching behavior because it puts students in immediate danger or because they have not responded to other supports.

·         Too often default to this type of conversation, but really don't need to use this very often.
·         Usually document this kind of conversation.
·         High will/high skill: if no kids in immediate danger use a facilitative conversation, directive will kill motivation Should follow up within two days with a reflective conversation so the teacher can talk about the direction given.  Trying to process at the time just makes the situation worse.

Follow up

·         plan a series of interactions rather than just one
·         stay the course even when things become uncomfortable, frustrating, or seem to be going nowhere.  Don't stop too soon.

This is not going to be easy. You need to decide if you are going to continue doing what you have done in the past, or are you going to commit to looking at individuals will and skill and having appropriate conversations with them.

Some schools take 2-3 years to make changes. Dramatic change is right around the corner, and we often stop too soon.

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