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Discussion: Preparing for the summer workshop

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posted by: Brian Drayton on June 26, 1998 at 3:06PM
subject: Summary to date

The discussion group on "preparing for summer workshops" has seen some
posts on resources for workshops themselves, but the strongest theme has
been the recruitment and retention of leading teachers. In many projects
this appears to be a pivotal strategy for long-term change in the school
systems. In this final week of the discussion, we summarize some of the
major contributions to the "teacher leadership" thread so far.
Please consider posting either in response to this material, or to other
messages on the list.
--> Another way that you might really help your colleagues is to send or
post schedules or agendas for your summer workshops.
Questions or requests for technical assistance to Brian Drayton


Lead Teachers
Lead teachers are an important component of the programs, and the people
that have posted see problems with attracting and retaining them. Lasting
systemic change cannot happen if there is not a core -- and a growing core
-- of teachers who are committed to the changes that the reform seeks. The
following excerpts state the problem, and explore some possible reasons
behind it. One interesting thread in the discussion is that in the course
of innovation, changes can conflict and even impeded each other. Thus, the
change to a year-round schedule in some districts makes it harder to
schedule teacher in-service programs that are accessible to a solid number
of teachers.

"My major concern this year is how to support the development of teacher
leaders ... a high school teacher myself, ... I know that the best
professional development is often done by practicing teachers." (M. Small)

"... This summer we had fewer applicants. Also attrition of members from
the first and second class is growing. How do we get teachers to accept
responsibility for their own professional growth and for that of others if
they are trainers? " (M. Davis)

"In thinking about the issue of falling levels of interest and numbers of
involved teachers I wonder...
1) Do we involve teachers enough in designing and making decisions about
the summer Institutes? Are they really developing a feeling of ownership
over the process they are involved in? I have found from my own experience
that teachers will not stay active if they have a passive role in decision
2) Do our schedules reflect the diversity of people's schedules...? We used
to have one program which we felt was best for everyone- now we offer our
basic workshops in three quite different formats. What other adaptations
are possible? " (M. Small)

"We realized during the first year of using lead teachers that there was a
great deal ofvariation in the involvement and dedication of our SKIL
teachers. After much discussion, a "levels of committment" contract [was
designed]. ...The contract allowed teachers to pick from 3 levels of
involvement for the year. It was used for the second year with cohorts 1 and
2. However, we are still disturbed by what some of us call the lack of
professionalism on the part of teachers in general. " (M. Davis)

"With year round schools - we are having trouble finding a time to collect
all the leaders for common experiences to deepen understandings...-- newer
leaders are signing up--but not the more experienced leaders. We still seem
to be changing the culture--trying to move toward indepth knowledge on
multiple levels. " (L. Gregg)

L. Van Zoest [She posted a long piece that includes a lot of interesting
details about one project's approach to building teaher leadership. We
excerpt it here, but urge you to read and respond to the full text]
" We have taken a long-range view to staffing workshops and have tried to
choose current workshop leaders to prepare for future needs. ... involving
teachers in designing and decision making as a way to maintain their
commitment level. We have a Coordinating Council made up of one
representative from each collaborative school the programmatic
decision-making body for the project ...From my perspective, it has been
exciting to see the Council members start to take ownership and initiative
for project activities.... we need to convince [teachers] that we
won't/can't do it alone, and that they _will_ need to step up. Another
thing that we've learned is that teachers (at least in our area) have not
always been treated like professionals. In some ways, this means that they
need to be treated like professionals, repeatedly, before they are willing
to act that way."
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