I remember quite clearly the day I decided to become an educator. I was heading toward the college campus library after a political science class. I had been toying with the idea of some kind of public service, maybe a career politician. But politicians have to make so many concessions, both ethical and political. And then I had a small epiphany, right there, in front of the library, that teachers, more than politicians, affect young minds, grow brains, and inspire love and justice.
I created a retreat and a series of workshops for eight department heads to build leadership capacity. I trained them to facilitate protocols, lead professional development workshops, and be reflective practitioners.
Academic Achievement Celebration
I created an award night program to celebrate students' academic achievement and intellectual curiosity. Each department nominated students who demonstrated these qualities. Students were rewarded with special, classic books personalized to their interests. I created the program, parent invitations and tickets, and organized seating, refreshments, music, speakers, and decorations.
I was trained by the National School Reform Faculty to facilitate Critical Friends Groups. Similar to what is currently known as Professional Learning Communities, the Groups used protocols to look at student work and support teacher growth. I helped to develop a professional development program where all teachers were in CFGs and teacher growth was measured by professional portfolios that were developed within the groups. Teachers gave each other feedback on their portfolios and teacher ratings were based on the portfolios. This initiative replaced the traditional "Satisfactory /Unsatisfactory" method of ratings by the principal.
I created "Classroom Labs" as a method of inter-visitation. Teachers volunteered to be the "classroom laboratory" and peers volunteered to be observers. Observers had a "lens" or question that the lab teacher had developed. After the observation, I facilitated a protocol to debrief. Teachers then revised their lesson. Teachers stated that this professional development was "individualized and effective for teaching issues that I struggle with."
Ninth Grade Academy
I assembled a team of the best and brightest teachers to plan and create a ninth grade institute whose purpose was to provide intensive literacy and numeracy instruction to assure that incoming freshmen perform on grade level by the end of their first year of high school.
Mastery Learning Reports
I re-aligned the student reports with mastery learning standards. Parents could then get specific information about what students did, or did not master, in the subject.
I attended a professional development with Penny Kittle, author of Book Love, and brought her ideas to my 9th grade English teacher. We developed an independent reading library and independent reading unit to support student choice and increased literacy skills.
I conceived of, developed, and facilitated a five day workshop on Data-Based Instruction. After the workshop, the principal asked me to co-facilitate it again with two teacher leaders. I trained these co-leaders in facilitation strategies, revised the agenda, and supported them during their co-leadership of the workshop.
Japanese Lesson Study
I created facilitated a two-year cycle of Japanese Lesson Study at a "newcomers" high school. Teachers were grouped in departments their first year, and in grade teams their second year. They created lessons together, observed them together, and then debriefed their observation. I created original materials to support the six cycles of lesson study that they participated in per year. Ninety-two percent of the teachers rated this professional development as "effective" or "highly effective" during that time.