One Sunflower

what helps you improve your practice?

on January 27, 2011

I mean really pushes you to think deeply about the work you do and how to make it better.

I’m sure we can all name the usual stuff – day to day trial and error, reflecting as we make curriculum plans, discussions we have with colleagues.  If we are lucky enough to be part of a larger cohort then there are the actions we take as part of our professional development plans – which usually involves some initial goal setting, learning to use new curriculum or tools, reporting about successes and challenges.

I do all that stuff – but the real question is – does my practice improve?

If I work alone in my classroom,  the only way I can really tell if I’m making an impact on my students is through the formal and informal assessments I do as well as my interviews with their families.

But if I open my doors and invite colleagues in, the multiple perspectives of those professionals provide lenses I will never get on my own.

I think of the pictures I’ve seen of insect eyes, you know the ones I’m referring to.  The extreme magnification shows the multiples of lenses that cover the surface of the eye capturing image after image of what the insect sees.  The duplicated images vary slightly depending on their position on the curve.

Everyone who comes into my room to observe, evaluate my work, spend time with my students or just hang out provides one of those images for me.  And when I put them together – with help, of course, I get a better picture of my “practice.”  This year, the admin team from the HeadStart office is coming in a few times a year and using the CLASS observation tool to evaluate what’s going on in my classroom.  It’s fascinating stuff and I’m enjoying learning about my work through the lens of that tool.

My newest venture is that I’m video-taping myself.  So now I’m becoming one of those visitors into my own room!  It is weird; lately I’ve been pulling them out on Sunday night to review on my computer.  I have a couple of them done so I’m ready to sit down with someone else and get some feedback.

But I need to figure out what it is I want to know.  So that’s my job this weekend, to come up with a question, or a problem of practice that I want to examine, and then watch myself over time to see if I can figure out ways to improve what I’m doing.

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One response to “what helps you improve your practice?

  1. Juliann says:

    I read this in A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough by Wayne Muller and your writing and wondering demonstrate that beginner’s mind, the mind that does not need to be the expert but is open to possibilities.
    “Unless you become as a child, said Jesus, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. He is describing the quality of mind natural to a growing child, this curious beginner mind, where by retaining our capacity for wonder, surprise, and delight, we come closer to that state of grace where we are able to find God’s presence almost anywhere.”
    I look forward to your questions.

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