Where to Go for More: Resources for Essential School Staff Development

Horace is indebted to two sources in particular for some of these items and ideas. Consultation with Gene Thompson-Grove, National School Reform Faculty Facilitator and Founding Co-Director Emerita, was immensely valuable both in identifying specific resources and clarifying the history of interconnections between CES and NSRF.

As well, resources mentioned in “Adult Learning: Turning the Corner to Instructional Change,” a paper written by Mary Beth Lambert, Catherine A. Wallach, and Brinton S. Ramsay of the Small Schools Project, a project of CES Affiliate Center CES Northwest, proved to be strongly relevant to the theme of Essential school staff development. “Adult Learning,” published in 2006, is part of the Small Schools Project’s Seven Small Schools Series and is available online atwww.smallschoolsproject.org/PDFS/adultLearning_full.pdf. In the text below, those resources are designated as adaptations from the “Adult Learning” report.

National School Reform Faculty: Adult Learning in the Service of Student Achievement
The National School Reform Faculty (NSRF) is the central source for much of the school-based professional development work that is discussed in this issue of Horace. Specifically, NSRF coordinates Critical Friends Groups (CFG) training, focusing on training facilitators and coaches to galvanize and sustain CFG work at school sites and within school districts. NSRF was founded in 1995 and was initially funded by the Annenberg Institute of School Reform at Brown University. Working with educators and principals from many CES schools, NSRF developed CFGs the protocols with which they work for educators to improve their practice to make a positive impact on student learning. In 2000, NSRF moved its National Center to the Harmony Education Center in Bloomington, Indiana.

NSRF hosts an extensive web site that serves as a guide to its programs and services, and it’s where you should go to learn more about what CFGs and protocols are, what roles they play in creating and sustaining professional learning communities in schools, and where school teams can go to participate in CFG training. Much like CES, NSRF has affiliations with many regional service providers, called NSRF Centers of Activity, allowing schools and districts to find support close to home. NSRF’s website also offers links to many powerful assets such as its Connections journal, a collection of resources culled from its coaches listserv, and much more. NSRF is the main resource for many CES schools’ professional learning community work.

National School Reform Faculty National Center 909 East 2nd Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47401
telephone 812.330.2702
mail: nsrf@nsrfharmony.org

Looking at Student Work
A project of the National School Reform Faculty, the Looking at Student Work web site focuses on looking at student work collaboratively, a practice that many Coalition educators believe is at the heart of collaboration and improvement. It offers a strong collection of protocols, books and other research materials, teacher-generated research based on student work, and links to other organizations that focus on the practice of student work.

The Power of Protocols: An Educator’s Guide to Better Practice
Horace reviewed this book, co-authored by by Joseph P. McDonald, Nancy Mohr, Alan Dichter, and Elizabeth C. McDonald, in Volume 19, Issue 4, Summer 2003. Mary Hastings, Senior Associate at the Great Schools Partnership in Maine, a CES Affiliate Center, wrote, “The four basic ideas of the book are: that professional educators should take charge of our own learning, that we should pause periodically in our practice to become students of our students, that we understand more deeply the term ‘protocol,’ and that we build the high performance, collaborative workplaces that will lead to student and teacher learning and success. Through gaining experience in the facilitation of protocols and the practice of exploring student work together, educators have developed an ‘accountability based on faithfulness to learning…that combines front-line scrutiny of student work, collective responsiveness to individual student needs, and strategic flexibility at all levels of the organization,’ as opposed to the accountability imposed by district, state, and federal policy makers. In other words, we can find out for ourselves much of what we need to know about our teaching and our students’ learning.”
For the full review of The Power of Protocols, visit www.essentialschools.org/cs/resources/view/ces_res/309.

Looking Together at Student Work
A review of Looking Together at Student Work, Second Edition, by Tina Blythe, David Allen, and Barbara Schieffelin Powell appears on page 28 of this issue of Horace. Go there for more about this significant resource.

National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching
National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching (NCREST), a research and development organization at Teachers College, Columbia University, conducts research in school reform such as assessment, standards, restructuring schools, small schools, school leadership, professional development, and teacher education. NCREST’s publications are particularly relevant to CES schools seeking to strengthen their staff development practices.

National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching
411 Main Hall, Box 110
Teachers College, Columbia University
525 West 120th Street
New York New York 10027
Telephone: 212.678.3432

This entry adapted from the Small Schools Project “Adult Learning” report.

National Staff Development Council
The National Staff Development Council (NSDC) is a membership-based organization that focuses on ensuring success for all students through staff development and school improvement. Although NSDC’s conferences, seminars, academies, awards, and publications are geared toward a wide range of schools and school systems, many of its offerings focus on building professional learning communities so that schools and districts can use their present strengths and knowledge to support and sustain student achievement.

National Staff Development Council
5995 Fairfield Road, Suite 4
Oxford, OH 45056
telephone: 513.523.6029
email: nsdcoffice@nsdc.org

This entry adapted from the Small Schools Project “Adult Learning” report.

Teacher Leaders Network
A project of the Center for Teaching Quality, the Teacher Leaders Network (TLN) is a group of more than 200 teachers from many states and Canadian provinces. Through blogs, online conversations, virtual mentoring, newsletters, and other methods of convening participants and encouraging dialogue, members use TLN to make their work of improving their teaching and that of their schools and districts more visible and public. In the many ways that they focus on development and professionalization within the teaching profession, the concerns of TLN participants overlap considerably with the issues important to CES educators and this ongoing record of their work is a valuable resource.

The Center for Teaching Quality, Inc.
500 Millstone Drive, Suite 102
Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278
telephone: 919.241.1575
email: ContactUs@teacherleaders.org

Horace on Professional Learning Communities in Essential Schools
Two past issues of Horace focus closely on how CES schools create and sustain professional learning communities. Horace Volume 15, Issue 4, April 1999, “The Cycle of Inquiry and Action: Essential Learning Communities,” is online at www.essentialschools.org/cs/resources/view/ces_res/74.
Horace Volume 13, Issue 2, November 1996, “Looking Collaboratively at Student Work: An Essential Toolkit,” is online at www.essentialschools.org/cs/resources/view/ces_res/57.
Both issues capture the early development of professional development through school-based collaboration that encouraged alignment with the CES Common Principles and are well worth reading for ideas and inspiration.

CES ChangeLab: Teacher Learning and Collaboration
The CES Small Schools Project Mentor Schools approach teaching and learning with the assumption that all students can learn to use their minds well with the help of teachers who facilitate student inquiry and practice skills and an individualized curriculum that emphasizes depth over breadth, seeing from multiple perspectives, and applying learning to new situations. Key to this approach is the development of professional learning communities in which teachers share practices and build upon one another’s knowledge and skills. In this section of the CES ChangeLab website, Mentor Schools offer resources and perspectives that illustrate professional learning communities at work in their schools.

“Critical Friends Groups at Amy Biehl High School, a Short History” is one of the ChangeLab Teacher Learning and Collaboration resources. Submitted by Bryan Wehrli, this narrative describes how Amy Biehl High School, a CES Mentor School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, adopted the Critical Friends Groups. An excerpt:

“Many of our teachers have observed a shift in meetings school-wide, reporting that meetings seem to run more smoothly and more productively. Humanities meetings, school policy meetings, all kinds of meetings rarely begin without a timed agenda, for instance. More important is what I refer to as “verbal continence.” It seems that participants are becoming more disciplined about when, how, and why they contribute to discussions. The importance of this should be emphasized. Like it or not, a great deal of our work, especially as an emerging charter school, happens in meetings. I believe that meetings are a sort of crucible for school culture. Bad meetings and bad meeting process can be very detrimental to a faculty. Although I’ve often been skeptical of some kinds of school reform efforts, it’s my opinion that the CFG is making a profoundly positive impact on this school. It’s for this reason that I’ve supported the suggestion we focus our mentoring work with other schools around the CFG.”

CES ChangeLab: Teacher Learning and Collaboration www.ceschangelab.org/cs/clpub/view/cl_cat/20

Current Certification and Professional Development Programs from the CES Network
This issue of Horace features a wide range of programs designed to help educators at many levels of professional experience develop their skills and vision to teach at Essential schools. Building on this effort, CES National has collected the wide range of programs that CES Affiliate Centers and Schools offer for entry-level educators seeking certification, mid-career educators seeking to develop additional skills and capacity, and CES school leaders seeking administrator/principal training.

For programs for professional development opportunities from CES Affiliate Centers and network schools, visitwww.essentialschools.org/professionaldevelopment.html.

For programs that offer teacher and administrator certification, please visit the CES website at www.essentialschools.org/certificationprograms.html.

Available in April 2008, Horace’s online version of this issue will include a detailed description of one such administrator training program, the Antioch Center for School Renewal Experienced Educators Program. Written by Susan Dreyer Leon, Core Faculty, Education Department, Antioch University New England & Antioch Center for School Renewal, a CES Affiliate Center, this description reports on the perspectives of a number of program participants who are CES network educators and offers an overview of the program’s philosophical and pedagogical base. Visit www.essentialschools.org/horace for this in-depth analysis.

Winter 2008 Sizer Dissertation Scholar Award Winner Announced!
Doctoral student Victoria J. Maslow, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has been selected as the Winter 2008 recipient of the Theodore R. Sizer Dissertation Scholar Award for her research on “The American high school: Are learning communities an answer to solving inequities?” CES extends congratulations to Ms. Maslow as well as our gratitude for furthering the research on the effectiveness of ideas connected to Essential school practices and principles.

Presented by the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) and named for its founder and Chair Emeritus Theodore R. Sizer, the Sizer Dissertation Scholar Award encourages a new generation of scholars to conduct research on CES schools and further an understanding of the effectiveness of innovative school practices. Award recipients receive a grant to conduct research or complete their dissertation, as well as a stipend to present their research at Fall Forum, the CES annual conference. For more on the program, including information for current doctoral students to apply for the next round, for which the deadline is April 21, 2008, visit www.essentialschools.org/pub/ces_docs/about/org/DSP_cfp.html.