Sunday, October 23, 2016

Why we must all pull the rope in the same direction

As part of our school-wide literacy plan, we have a teacher-led “collaboration hour” that takes place at the beginning of each nine weeks. These professional learning sessions focus on the literacy strategy that will be the focus in all classrooms across our campus for that nine weeks. The focus of the first nine weeks was Effective Vocabulary Instruction, and the focus for the second nine weeks is Write to Learn. 

Two of our English teachers led the collaboration hour, and they worked hard to design the session so that teachers would experience “Write to Learn” and not just hear about it. 

As soon as the teachers arrived and signed in, the session got started with a “bell ringer” writing activity. During the session, teachers had to write, discuss, defend, and collaborate. The teacher leaders modeled what the literacy strategy should look like in the classroom. 

Write to Learn is a strategy from the book that guides our literacy plan, The Core Six. Writing as a way to demonstrate a student’s learning is applicable to every classroom. From fine arts to physical education to engineering to foreign language, there will be an intentional focus on writing during the second nine weeks. 

The school-wide plan allows our large staff to come together around a unified purpose and “pull the rope in the same direction.” All teachers were required to attend the session, and those who weren’t able to attend were given a “make-up session” via an interactive EdPuzzle
If you would like to see how an EdPuzzle works and participate in the Write to Learn Collaborative Hour (incorrectly titled above), click HERE:

My favorite moment was when I heard one of our AP English teachers (who has a plethora of professional development hours and experience with implementing literacy strategies) comment on the bellringer activity that all of the teachers completed. He shared that when his students come to class, he spends a few minutes reviewing concepts and ideas from the day before. He also shared that he could use the writing warm-up activity and have his students to write about the concepts and ideas to demonstrate their learning from the day before. This was a true example of a teacher having a positive mindset prior to and during the session. He knew (and knows) the importance of everyone on our staff being invested in our literacy plan, and he demonstrated a way to take what was being presented and use it with his students. 

What if the AP English teacher had come to the meeting and only half-listened because he had already heard about writing as a literacy strategy? 

When we don't all pull the rope in the same direction, 
  • it can set up the organization for diminished morale and bickering
  • it can reduce productivity and progression towards a team goal
  • it promotes competition instead of collaboration among team members

What are the characteristics of a championship culture where everyone pulls on the rope in the same direction?

In the article by Jeff Jansenn titled, 10 things teammates don’t let teammates do in championship cultures, he shares 10 factors that all teammates (or staff members) must commit to in order to build and sustain a championship culture. 

See the article for a full description, but my top three are the following:
Teammates don't let teammates cut corners
"Championship Cultures expect and demand everyone’s best effort on a consistent basis." - Jansenn
Teammates don't let teammates whine or complain. 
"Championship Cultures are fueled by and feed off positive energy, excitement, and enthusiasm." - Jansenn
Teammates don't let teammates divide or destroy the team.
"Championship Cultures do not survive long if they tolerate teammates who divide or destroy the team from within." - Jansenn 

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