Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Navigating a Learning Community

Hi Everyone,
As we approach our next PD we thought a review of some factors set forth by Lois for creative learning, innovative practice and sustainable models was worth revisiting. This is a time when you might be questioning what are my next steps, what do I need to do? We'll reference these guidelines throughout our PD. We find them really helpful for guiding our process.
Drawing by Gail Geltner,
Professional Learning Community: Stay in regular touch, virtually and f2f, with explicit intentions (make your goals public) and with actions linked directly to those intentions (focus) and with regular checks to see what you’re learning and how, by comparing what you’re doing and learning to your intentions!
Professional development focused on student learning: Research is clear that PD that builds community and is focused on student learning is what is effective.
Assignments/Accountability: Agree to stay with it; understand that others depend on you; participate; make explicit commitments to regular meetings, experiences; conversations, and explorations/investigations/inquiry. 
Seek a question of importance to you and pursue it: Teacher action research is a powerful source of teacher learning and satisfaction, and a powerful counter-force to the despair and exhaustion that’s permeating the atmosphere of schools.

Make Learning Visible: share your successes, failures, and process; use video documentation in the classroom and as a way to reflect; visit each other and talk about what you see; look together at student work to see student minds as they develop; make “thinking walls” and post your understanding goals to make your purpose visible to all in the learning community (students, teachers, parents, colleagues, administrators, visitors) and keep it in the front of all your minds.

Drawing by Gail Geltner,

Exposure/Contact with Contemporary Artists and Art: Familiarize yourselves with and use Art21 and other videos of artists and artworks; read blogs and periodicals and websites; go to museums and galleries and artist talks – with and without kids – and talk about art; invite artists to visit your class; go to visit artists in their studios and on the street; make your own art regularly; watch TED talks on arts.
Keep Making at the Center: Dedicate 60 - 75% of learning time to students actively making work; link all non-making learning and activity tightly and directly to making; do mid-process critiques often, keep them short, do more early in the process when ideas are still flexible; offer mini-DLs on new processes; Give students choice and make assignments roomy so students have to/get to make lots of decisions (thinking!).
Track uses of the Studio Habits: Use Studio Habits to analyze your students’ work and working, your lessons, your courses, your own art-making, your viewing of work of professional artists, your viewing of videos and texts of artists talking about their working and work; and your students’ uses of Studio Habits to do all these things.
Use the habits yourself to see how they benefit you: Teachers need to take the time they need to become fluent in thinking with the habits. Use them to reflect on many different contexts (what you and others see, what you and others do, what you and others make, how and what you and others teach) and share your observations and questions and tentative conclusions.

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