Saturday, August 3, 2019

Necessary Conditions: Effective Facilitation & Wrap Up

Last day of my 3 part series on Necessary Conditions! The last part of the book focussed on Effective Facilitation of tasks, the 3rd and final element of the pedagogy outlined. One of the things that makes observing other classrooms so special is when you see the magic that goes on within those walls. Effective facilitation seems like a gift to some, but the further I've gotten in to teaching, the more I realize it's half science and half art. It can be learned, it can be practiced, it can be honed. Academic safety feels like something I try to foster in my classroom already. Quality tasks can be found in so many places and Twitter and the MTBoS has been such a huge wealth of them for me. But effective facilitation, that takes time and intention and research and growth. It's where most of my goals lie in my professional growth each year and it's the part of the book that drew me in the most.

Ideas I'm Implementing/Saving for Later:

  • Index Card Questions
    • Oh baby, am I stealing this idea!! The teacher in the book gave out one card per week at the beginning of the year with a question that would help facilitate mathematical conversation. Each week, they'd add in another question. They included (but were not limited to):
      • Can you justify that?
      • What assumptions are we making?
      • Does that align with our initial estimate?
      • What other problems does this look like?
  • Publicizing Feedback During Group Work
    • I loved the suggestion of using your document cam to record a plus/delta and recording group behaviors during work time- both commendable one and ones that need to be changed. Here, you can record specific phrasing, questions, use of Standards for Mathematical Practice, etc, and use those as evidence in a whole group conversation about how the class is attending to different norms.
  • Reflecting & Debriefing Norms More
    • I make a huge point of establishing norms at the beginning of the school year, but I liked the ideas for revisiting them throughout the year.  Questions like "What norms did you exhibit well today?" or "Which norms would you like to focus on tomorrow" are great, quick warm up prompts. These discusses can result in reflection, public praise, and re-emphasizing what we worked so hard to establish as important on Day 1
    • I want to use rubrics for more reflection here- doing more of these tasks and having students use rubrics throughout the year to have them reflect on how they are hitting those norms
  • Reading Designing Groupwork (just ordered used online) and learning more about Complex Instruction
  • Make Sure Tasks are Group-Worthy
    • Tasks that are too rote backfire in group work and I've seen that in my own instruction. I want to be more selective and utilize group and partner world more strategically next year. 
  • Establishing Group Roles
    • You guys, I am the worst at this. I read it every year and I never do it. I'm going to be doing more research and trying it....anyone have any favorite resources? 
  • The Know/Need-to-Know/Next Steps Process for Facilitation
    • This gives a real structure to posing a task to students. I think it's something I try to do intuitively, but I loved the step-by-step goals and structure this gives. I also like that this encourages teachers to pre-empt the paths students may go down, making you more prepared to facilitate no matter where the lesson goes. 
  • The Workshop Model, Including Use of Sign Up Sheets
    • I see myself trying to integrate workshops first into my review days to try to get some more small group instruction to students who need it. I love all the suggestions for using it during task facilitation, but it may take me some time to get there! 
  • Solution Presentations
    • I want my students to be sharing their solutions more- whether that's in a small group, gallery walk, writing, videos, or actual presentations. 
    • One of the things I love was "Externalizing the Enemy"- if students need to present to an external group, then you as a teacher become a resource to help them prepare. This really tied to my experience working at the pharmaceutical group grilled me on my presentation, but when I had to present to the entire program, I was truly prepared. I felt more comfortable being wrong in front of my group because I knew they could help me catch things I'd missed or said wrong and they'd give me the feedback I needed to make sure I ready for the "enemy." They talked a lot about how it was better to get caught by your lawyer in private interviews than to get caught in cross-examination in court. I like this idea that you're on the students' team and the added professionalism of presenting to an outside group. 
    • Think about why students are presenting, how they will present, who will do the presenting, and to whom they will present
  • Lesson Planning Structures
    • Using the lesson plan templates and rubrics in the book will be a great resources for building lessons myself
    • Make sure launching the task includes space to assess and hone student understanding of the task
    • Use overly structured questions and tasks to create "hint cards" to hand out as you simplify the tasks and allow (require?) students to use their question prompt cards
    • Set up a space in my classroom for "workshop" time
    • Plan the debrief
    • "Make homework work for your students, not the other way around"
    • Plan to identify moments of brilliance, peer appreciation and encouragement, and speaking with every student
    • Limit the number of questions students can ask the teacher during a task- "the one question"
  • Assessment
    • Analyze student work first, look for patterns and then aggregate data
    • Spend more time with students helping them understand why they fall in one column of a rubric. This act allows for much more metacognition! 
    • Have students help develop exemplars at the beginning of the year
    • Shorten quizzes, add tasks to tests, allow for student discourse and collaboration on parts of the test, allow retakes for full credit
  • Quick Strategies/Phrases
    • "Teachers need to listen to students' ideas rather than listening for a particular response"
    • "Permission to be inarticulate" 
    • "It's easy to forget the Important for the Urgent"
  • Full Year Planning
    • Choose "Anchor Problems" to assign throughout the year so they are on the calendar, even if the dates are off
    • I bought this tripod off Amazon so I can start recording my lessons and analyzing them myself. I will always be more critical of myself than an administrator- I'm looking forward to using this to improve my facilitation. I also liked that this has a bluetooth remote so I can record without students getting squirrely and noticing. 
    • Practice routines more- even if it feels silly!
    • Plan for panels/check ins with students to see how class is working for them (Information like that is priceless and "Pizza is Cheap")

Questions I Am Pondering:

  • How can I best assess my own facilitation skills? 
  • How can I help students be willing to scrap a failed solution, but continue to persevere? 
  • How can I work within the confines of my grading system and PLT to improve my assessment?
  • How can I be more of an agent of change in my own department? 

I can't recommend this book more! Mine is highlighted, written all over, dog-earred, and well-loved already.  I feel ready to jump into the rest of MTBoSBlaugust and all my planning for the new school year! 

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