Lisa Schneider, Irvine, CA LisaSchneider@iusd.org
When I boarded the plane leaving Seattle after my week at the Veteran ABP (ABP-V) the following questions came to my mind: What have I conceded for the sake of having a classroom with the appearance of classroom management, order, and compliance? Did I deprive my students of opportunities to learn just to be able to get through the problems of the day, and to remain on pace like the rest of my colleagues, so that we can all give the same test on the same day?
Prior to participating, I thought my mindset was in sync with supporting collaboration in my classroom. I thought that since my students sat in teams, worked together, and we had whole class discussions about every problem, that I was doing right by the curriculum. I knew that there were some flaws in what I was doing though, and that is one of the reasons I chose to apply to the Academy of Best Practices. A key focus of the academy was how our decisions impact student learning.
Prior to the academy I would ask myself: How do I get my students to behave and stay on task while they are in their teams? I have always known about team roles and the study team strategies, and I knew that I needed to get better at incorporating them. At the Academy, I assumed that the facilitators, and the other veteran participants would give me more magical strategies and ways to make study teams work.
But that did not happen, and that is not a bad thing. Instead, I changed my mindset through the series of literature, discussions, and tasks we did . Instead of searching for magical ways to make students behave and stay on task, I now ask myself, how can I improve engagement, equity of voice, and participation? And to what extent do I act in modifying the curriculum to lower or raise the cognitive demand of particular tasks? In other words, rather than walking away with a handful of tricks, the ABP-V revived my ability to reflect in a meaningful way about my lessons.