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In order for our school to be successful, we know that we must have:

Outstanding teachers in every class, everyday.

We believe that outstanding teachers are made even more effective when they:

Work collaboratively in a grade level team.

Lastly, we believe that we must support our classroom teachers with specialists. For us, our specialists focus on 4 key areas:

Learning Support (Special Needs & Differentiation)

English Language Learning

Technology Integration

Inquiry Based Curriculum

Each of these areas has a coordinator that works with teachers and grade level teams. It is important that they help teachers at whatever level is the most effective. This may range from team teaching to acting as a consultant and everything in between. The key is to build capacity and share expertise. The goal, every time, is increased student learning.

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My first attempt at an infographic. I ended up choosing to make it A3 size at it could be used as a promotional poster as well. I created it using PAGES.

You can click on the image to get a larger version or here’s a full size version in PDF:

TIS by the Numbers 11-12(lower res2)

This year we have decided to take our collaboration a step further. We are committing to engage in professional instructional rounds.

What are instructional rounds?

Instructional rounds involves a group of teachers visiting a colleague’s class and using the visit to have a professional conversation about professional practice.

It takes a lot of trust to allow people into our classrooms and to have them talk about what they observe without feeling that we are being judged.

Purpose
– provide teacher team with opportunities to observe peer practice and for the observation to be a catalyst for professional discussion
– the purpose is to celebrate and disseminate best practices as well encourage collaborative discussions of professional practice and provide opportunity for personal reflections.
– not for evaluative purposes and nonjudgmental

The Host (person being observed)
– completely voluntary
– will be asked in advance
– can provide the team with a context or introduction about their classroom, students, curriculum, etc. Not mandatory.

The Visitors
– people who have no teaching time during the scheduled visit will be invited to attend
– optional and voluntary

The Visit
– meet in the staffroom beforehand to share the context and discussion expectations
– the visit may be 20-40 minutes in length
– visitors are encouraged to observe class routines, student learning, the environment, the interactions between the teacher and students

The Discussion
– after the visit, the team will discuss their observations
– this discussion will be facilitated by a member of the school leadership team

Follow Up
– brief write up will be shared with all of the staff to celebrate

After round 1, here’s what happened:

Instructional Rounds #1 – Starting the Day Off Right

During period 1 today, we visited TM (SK) and AS (Gr1). I’d like to thank T and A for agreeing to be our first hosts. Inviting people into your classroom takes a considerable amount of trust.

As it was a Monday morning and P1, not many teachers were available to join the rounds this time. I only notified teachers that had preps during P1. Here’s what we saw:

Kindergarten – a very kinesthetic and active classroom that uses well established routines and cues to provide structure. T brings her wealth of PE experience to her kindergarten class. She uses tuck sits, L sits, touch your toe sits and criss cross sits to keep the students focused but still active. The “touch your toes sit” is especially evil for out of shape administrators! The students acted out the story “From Tree to House” and the teacher used star freezes and pencil freezes to transition between the steps. T is a great example of how a classroom can be very active but still well managed. In fact, if you asked her, I’m sure that she would say that being active is key to being well managed.

Grade 1 – high tech and low tech classroom that uses feedback to improve literacy. A’s classroom is a tech lover’s paradise. During her literacy centres, students were working on 2 different ipads, recording themselves with the MacBook, videotaping one another with the video camera, reading with a parent volunteer, creating words on the SmartBoard, and reading to themselves with simple telephones. Can 5 year olds handle a video camera, an ipad, a computer, and iMovie? Absolutely. But what is important isn’t the technology itself. Everything is designed to provide feedback to the students and the teacher. From the PVC telephone that provides auditory feedback to the parent volunteer to the recorded movie – all of these strategies provide feedback. A learning environment is just about doing – it’s about doing, reflecting, and redoing.

Thank you again T and A, it was fantastic to see the great things that you are doing!

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Authors

howard.stribbell@tis.edu.mo

Howard Stribbell is the Head of Schools at The International School of Macao.

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