kitchen table math, the sequel: pop quiz

Monday, June 11, 2012

pop quiz

re: ruining Lemov
Try this forced-choice exercise: if a principal wants to improve the quality of
teaching and learning in his or her school, which three of these will have the greatest
  • Observing and evaluating full lessons, preceded by a pre-conference with each teacher and followed by a detailed write-up and post-conference;
  • Systematic walkthroughs of the entire school focusing on target areas (for example, the quality of student work on bulletin boards);
  • Mini-observations of 3-5 classrooms every day (five minutes per visit) with face to face follow-up conversations with each teacher;
  • Quick “drive-by” visits to all classrooms every day to greet students and “manage by walking around”;
  • Collecting and checking over teachers’ lesson plans every week;
  • Requiring teacher teams to submit common curriculum unit plans in advance, and discussing them with each team;
  • Having teacher teams use interim assessments of student learning to improve instruction and help struggling students.
What's a Principal to Do? When You Can’t Do It All, What Are the Highest-Leverage Activities?  by Kim Marshall
Education Week September 20, 2006


gasstationwithoutpumps said...

Not having read the article yet, I'll stick my neck out and guess:

1) interim assessments (there is no substitute for knowing what the students are learning)

2) common curriculum unit plans. The plans themselves are probably useless, but getting the teachers to talk to each other about what they are teaching will probably lead to more sharing of teaching tips.

3) Observing full lessons. I have little faith in administrator observation as method for improving teaching, but this will again get teachers and administrators talking about improving teaching.

Catherine Johnson said...

You missed one!

Catherine Johnson said...

You got one right that I didn't pick (to my embarrassment).

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

Having looked at the article now, it seems I agreed with the author on the first 2, and he or she is also dubious about the value of observation, but went for the drive-by visit rather than the dog-and-pony show. I suspect that both are ineffective as observation techniques, but I can see how the drive-by can give the illusion of the principal caring more easily (and that illusion is essential to building a community that works together).

Crimson Wife said...

I would say the mini-observations (if done frequently enough) and also discussing the unit plans. Interim assessments if they aren't already being done (they certainly were at schools I attended growing up).

One thing that I don't see on the list but think should be is pairing rookie teachers and veterans willing to mentor the rookies. We use this type of model for training new physicians.

Catherine Johnson said...

You guys are good!

Anonymous said...

I don't see an option for something like "see what is working and try to do more of that. Stop doing what doesn't work." Do I not understand the choices?

-Mark Roulo

Catherine Johnson said...

That falls under 'interim assessments' (OR IT SHOULD).

Allison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allison said...

The article mentions "high quality assessments" but then later focuses on a principal getting his team to write common assessments.

The taken-for-granted aspect of the above plan that k-8 teachers have the faintest idea how to write a high quality math assessment is not yet a fact in evidence in any school I know of.

Mathematics is not like language arts. Even supposedly specialist math teachers in middle school seem to not have the faintest idea what core misconceptions lurk inthe heads of their students. There aren't these underlying misconceptions in language arts. There may be things don't know, but they aren't hidden and threatening the entire tower of language processing. Core misunderstandings in math do. Many teachers have these misunderstandings themselves.

The recommendations in the article are fine, and n the abstract, are like trying to apply decent engineering process to a school. That is good as far as it goes. But you can't start with just one math standard and work your way back to a lesson properly building in coherence, precision, and difficulty over the course of
several years. Yet that is what needs to happen to have competent math taught over the span of k-5 or 8.

Catherine Johnson said...

The taken-for-granted aspect of the above plan that k-8 teachers have the faintest idea how to write a high quality math assessment is not yet a fact in evidence in any school I know of.


btw, now that I've been teaching English, I disagree pretty strongly that English is radically different from math. English teachers these days don't know grammar and certainly don't know linguistics (I include myself in those categories, unfortunately), and all knowledge of how to teach writing (and reading) has been lost as far as I cant tell.

A fair bit of what **is** taught is flat-out wrong, such as the injunction against using passive voice, which is built into Microsoft Word's grammar check, for pete's sake.