• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions. Connect your Gmail, DriveDropbox, and Slack accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize all your file attachments. Learn more and claim your free account.


Laying the Collaborative Foundation - Union

Page history last edited by Bill 5 years, 11 months ago

Laying the Collaborative Foundation


Direct link to these resources:  http://bit.ly/atplcUCPSAug14 


Backchannel for today's workshop:  https://todaysmeet.com/atplcUCPSAug14  


No opportunity has changed full-time classroom teacher Bill Ferriter more than having the chance to work collaboratively in a professional learning community.  Once skeptical about his future in the profession, Bill was revitalized by the professional energy that studying collaboratively with peers reintroduced to his work.  Not only did he enjoy teaching again, he saw dramatic improvement in his practice -- and in the learning of the students in the sixth grade classrooms on his hallway.  


The work hasn't always been easy, though -- and along the way, Bill has learned a TON of valuable lessons about the structures that can help professional learning teams to get off on the right collaborative foot.  This page houses materials for a workshop designed to introduce the staff of several middle schools in Union County, North Carolina to a few of those first-hand lessons.  




Handouts for Today's Session

Handouts - PDF


Today's workshop is designed to introduce teams to a series of tools and templates that can help to structure the collaborative work of learning teams.  As a result, it is ESSENTIAL that all participants have access to the tools and templates that we will be exploring together.  All of those tools and templates are organized in the PDF linked above.  Please consider printing a hard copy and bringing it with you to our training session on August 18th.  



Slides for Today's Session

Slides - PDF


Linked above and embedded below are the slides for today's workshop.  It is not necessary to print these slides.  You may, however, want to download an electronic copy of the slides to follow along with during the workshop. 






Session 1 - We're Meeting.  Now What?

(Time: 8:30-10:00)


For many teachers, professional learning team meetings can be nothing short of overwhelming! Not used to making collective decisions, teams struggle to organize their work together and begin to question the benefit of a school’s decision to restructure as a professional learning community. In this session, Solution Tree author Bill Ferriter explores the kinds of actions that learning teams take to make their meetings successful.


Survey - Sources of Collaborative Frustration


As simple as collaboration may sound, teachers on new professional learning teams often struggle with frustrations during their early work together. Working in table groups, brainstorm five reasons that you think learning teams struggle with collaboration.  Rank those reasons in order from most frustrating to least frustrating.  Share your thinking in our backchannel.    



Team Structuring Tools


In The Collaborative Teacher, Susan Sparks Many argues that successful teams build clear structures to guide their work together.  “The most effective teams are clear about the why, what, where, how, and when of their work," she writes.  "Defined roles and responsibilities may seem formal...[but] when the team see results, members will appreciate its structure: ‘Our team is focused and organized. We share roles and responsibilities, and we get our work done.’ ” (p. 42)


With a member of your current learning team, review the following documents that session presenter Bill Ferriter has used to structure the work of his learning teams:


Team Agenda Template - Every team meeting must begin with a clear agenda.  This template -- found in Building a Professional Learning Community at Work was the agenda used by Bill's most successful learning team.  His current team decided to strip their agenda down a bit and is currently using this Google Form to structure their meetings.


Team Roles to Consider - As odd as it is to define specific roles for adults on collaborative teams, it is essential that certain roles are filled during every meeting.  These are the roles that Bill thinks are necessary for successful collaboration. 


Fist to Five Ratings - There's noting more important for a learning team than to develop a clear system for measuring the levels of consensus they have around key decisions.  This is the handout that Bill's learning team uses when gauging shared commitments. 



Conflict Resolution Tools


A simple truth of collaboration is that conflict is inevitable.  Teams WILL struggle -- both with one another and with making decisions about exactly what students should know and be able to do.  What's not inevitable, however, is that conflict will cause teams to stumble.  When teams have developed clear processes for working conflicts through to resolution, they are far more productive and professionally satisfied.


With a member of your current learning team, review the following documents that session presenter Bill Ferriter has used to resolve conflict on his learning teams:


Weathering Team Storms - What surprised Bill the most in the early years of collaboration was just HOW MANY conflicts his learning team had to wrestle with.  This 8-page handout details many of the conflicts that his team faced -- and offers one practical strategy for working through each conflict.


Managing Team-Based Conflict - One of the mistakes that people make when involved in a conflict is allowing emotion -- rather than logic -- guide their decision-making.  This handout is designed to slow thinking down, push emotion out of a conversation, and allow team-members who disagree with one another to see each other as partners instead of enemies.


Trust on Our Team Survey - It is simply impossible for the members of collaborative teams to work together successfully if they don't trust one another.  This survey is designed to help teams evaluate the levels of trust on their learning team -- and to spot potential strategies for building trust over time. 


Additional Resources


One of the things that session presenter Bill Ferriter is the most proud of about his PLC Books -- Building a Professional Learning Community at Work and Making Teamwork Meaningful -- is that it is FULL of tangible handouts that can be used to structure the work of learning communities.  While this session has spotlighted 6 of those handouts, you can explore and download the rest for free here and here.  





Session 2 - Getting Started with Assessment


Once learning teams have clearly defined the essential outcomes for each and every unit that they teach, they must begin to develop shared assessments designed to measure progress towards mastery of those outcomes.  Without shared assessments, it is impossible to identify instructional practices that are working or to provide interventions when students are struggling to master essential outcomes.  In this portion of the workshop, participants will (1). examine their own core beliefs and feelings about the role that assessment should play in learning, (2). discuss the basic assessment practices that are embraced by successful learning teams and (3). experiment with practices that can support learning teams who are interested in moving forward with shared assessments.   



Activity - Surveying Your Current Assessment Reality

Handouts - PDF


One of the core practices in classrooms where students make the most learning gains is formative assessment.  Bob Marzano's research has shown that timely and directive feedback is the second most important school-level factor for improving student achievement.  John Hattie argues that "the simplest prescription for improving education must be dollops of feedback."  And Mike Mattos believes that until we get to a point where mastery is tracked by student and standard, we have no real chance of effectively intervening on behalf of struggling students.  Use the survey linked above -- which was developed by Solution Tree assessment expert Kim Bailey -- to reflect on the current state of the formative assessment practices in your building.  


Additional questions to consider:


  • How frequently are students in your classroom/school given timely and directive feedback about their progress towards mastering essential skills?  What are the challenges that make providing timely and directive feedback to students difficult in your classroom/school? 
  • How effectively are teachers tracking progress towards mastery of essential skills by student and by standard in your school?  What are the challenges that make tracking progress by student and standard difficult in your classroom/school?
  • Are teachers on your learning team or in your school generally open to the notion of formative assessment?  If giving timely and directive feedback was doable, would teachers embrace the practice? 



Activity - Unit Planning for Formative Assessments

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF


In order to get a better sense for the kinds of tasks that you are using to measure student progress, it is important to work up a unit plan detailing the number and type of assessments that your team plans to deliver during a unit of study.  Remember that a formative assessment ISN’T a 60 question unit test given after 4 weeks of instruction.  In fact, the best formative assessments often have less than 10 questions and are given on a weekly or biweekly basis, allowing teachers and students to take immediate action.  Review the unit planning template for formative assessments linked above.  Then, use the following questions to reflect on your team's current process for planning common formative assessments:


  • What steps does your learning team currently take to track the complexity of both the learning targets and assessments that you give to your students?
  • If you had to guess, are your current assessments too rigorous or not rigorous enough?  
  • Can you give examples of places where your assessments need to be improved? 



Activity - Tracking Student Progress with Mastery Connect



Developed by a team of former educators, Mastery Connect's goal is to make formative assessment -- measuring progress by student and by standard in a timely fashion -- doable.  The free version of the tool allows teachers to create, administer, score, record and report the results of 10 question assessments that are tied either to state standards or to the Common Core in minutes using nothing more than the webcam of your computer.  In this activity, session presenter Bill Ferriter will introduce participants to the role that Mastery Connect is playing to redefine his assessment practices.



Activity - Exploring Data Analysis Tools and Tricks

Data Meeting Template 

Protocol for Data Meeting 

Structuring Team Data Conversations 


Assessment experts Kim Bailey and Chris Jakicic have put together a simple template and protocol for conducting data meetings that can help teams to talk about results in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, and session presenter Bill Ferriter has put together a Structuring Team Data Conversations document that works to guide teams to the same end.  Review these documents to see if they could play any role in the work that you do with collaborative peers.


Questions to consider:


  • Do your learning teams currently have tools and/or practices in place to guide their conversations about student learning data?  How is that influencing -- either positively or negatively -- the work that they do on behalf of students?
  • What is it that you like the best about both data conversation templates?  Which data conversation template is likely to be the right starting point for your learning team?  Why?  
  • If you were to make changes to either of these data conversation templates, what would those changes be?  Why would those changes be important for your teachers and your learning teams?  


**If time allows, participants will practice one data conversation strategy.  For that activity, participants will use the following two resources:


Science Pretest

Science Pretest Data Set




Final Reflections: SWOT Analysis on the State of Your Learning Team

Handout - Word

Handout - PDF


Let’s take a few minutes to reflect on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that you will face when working to improve the collaborative practices of your learning team.  Use the template linked above to guide your thinking.  Then, work with partners to answer the following questions:


  • Did members of your reflective group identify any strengths and/or opportunities that you hadn't considered?  Are those strengths and/or opportunities available to you?  Are they strengths and/or opportunities that you can cultivate? 
  • Are there any common patterns in the weaknesses and/or threats that members of your reflective group anticipate facing as they work together in the upcoming school year?  Can you identify potential solutions to any of those weaknesses and/or threats?   
  • Whose support will you want and/or need in order to successfully move forward with your efforts to collaborate with one another around your practice?  Are they already on board?  How will getting them on board make collaborating with your colleagues easier? 






Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.