kitchen table math, the sequel: ruining Lemov...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

ruining Lemov...

from Allison's post:
I've now seen schools ruin Lemov's Teach Like a Champion, too. They do this by using it as a micromanagement tool--lesson plans must look exactly like this, word choice must sound exactly like this, etc. to beat the teachers into submission.
Another timely observation.

I've just learned, via another ktm writer & commenter, that "professional learning communities" can be used to exactly the same end: to insure classroom-to-classroom uniformity.

Every teacher teaches the same lesson the same way.

That's fine when we're talking about a relentlessly field-tested, scripted Direct Instruction curriculum that is built to produce results.

It's not fine when we're talking Inputs instead of Outputs.

The entire point of professional learning communities, as I understand it, the reason they were revolutionary, is that Richard DuFour had the revelation that he should stop thinking about teaching and start thinking about learning. In the "PLCs" he invented, teachers didn't write lessons together. Teachers wrote tests together. They wrote tests together, and they essentially designed the curriculum together, in the sense that they decided what would be taught and when. They met on a regular basis, they worked with the state standards and/or the district's curriculum documents, and they decided which (which!) standards they would teach and when they would teach them.

Which and when, not how.

They taught as they thought best, and gave students the common assessments they had written.

Then they analyzed the results together and adjusted their teaching accordingly. As professionals might do.

As far as I can tell, and I've read a fair bit of DuFour's work, in the original PLC model there was no focus on telling the teachers how to teach. "Stop worrying about how the teachers are teaching" was pretty much DuFour's discovery (as I understand it). He had been a hard-charging "instructional leader," he was working around the clock, observing classrooms, reviewing lesson plans, meeting with teachers to provide feedback, and.... nothing. Same results.

Everything changed when he stopped focusing on how the teachers were teaching:
[DuFour] greatly reduced the time he spent trying, frenetically, to be the consummate, traditional “instructional leader.” Instead, he began to focus on the simple elements of learning communities—ensuring that teams met on a regular schedule and documented their progress on self-made formative assessments. And he honored and celebrated every success at every faculty meeting. These simple steps lightened his load, gave him focus, and led to years of dramatic, uninterrupted progress on every kind of assessment— from teacher-made tests, to state assessments, to college entrance exams. The success rate on Advanced Placement exams at his school rose by 800%.

Learning Communities at the Crossroads: Toward the Best Schools We've Ever Had by Mike Schmoker
AND SEE: Confessions of an Instructional Leader


orangemath said...

Thank you for this perceptive review of PLC's. I've read a great deal on PLC's and missed this! Too focused on intervention.

Lesson Study is another topic - not as related as I thought. Presentations and studies on the best way to teach a lesson. This is NOW separate from PLC's. That really helps.

Allison said...

oh, i forgot to add data driven instruction (DDI)! you can ruin that too!

i've now seen the trifecta; lemov, ddi, and plcs used to teach a math curriculum in, essentially, list order by state standard with no thought to predication of the actual math knowledge of those topics.

Catherine Johnson said...