This is the latest in a series of blogs by a partnering cohort teacher.
By T-L Rogers, Bridgeport School District
While winding down for the end of the school year and tying up loose ends, I found myself heavily preoccupied with thoughts and reflection of the last year. I feel like I have learned so much by experiencing The Fluency Project and yet barely scratched the surface. During the last several days we spent together this month, I really had a breakthrough; I humored some really great initial inklings that eventually led to more solidified ideas, followed by some actual artifacts. One such artifact is a survey I distributed to the staff at Bridgeport.
This survey served many purposes: the completion of a leadership activity for my year 4 of Ohio’s Resident Educator program, a culmination of previous inspiration from our district’s leadership class led by Mr. Shutler that formally concluded in the winter but remained a joint commitment by staff throughout the end of the school year, and a unique opportunity to collect narrative data from my colleagues.
My survey consisted of nine questions in three different sections. The first three questions asked respondents to rate their levels of expertise in various skill areas ranging from classroom management and various forms of assessment to the application of technology and data. My goal is to analyze the results from this section and match people in need of assistance with those who are confident in that skill area for peer-mentoring. This information will also help our District Leadership Team determine needs for future professional development offerings.
In the next section, four questions asked respondents to reflect on their thoughts regarding the four core values of The Fluency Project (compassion – equity – authenticity – agency) and how they promote each within their classrooms or on our campus. I included a rough definition of each value as it pertains to the field of education for reference. By analyzing and understanding my colleagues’ understanding of the work we are doing with The Fluency Project, I am hoping to brainstorm the best ways I can support those members who do not get to experience all that we do in this unique setting, and ultimately serve as an influential agent of positive change.
The final section asked respondents to rate their likelihood of participation in future activities including another leadership class, a book study, and informal collaboration sessions amongst staff. There was also a blank provided for respondents to explain what they envision for each activity of interest. I do not yet know my full goal for this section of data. Part of me would love to be a leader in one of these activities, but perhaps a bigger part of me is apprehensive about taking on such a bewildering task and uncertain of my claim to such a role.
So far I have only received twelve completed surveys, but that is twelve more pieces of the puzzle and insights into my colleagues’ minds and educational beliefs and practices than I had before. The lack of response to date is almost definitely due to the fact that I did not finish and send out the survey until our last day of school, but I am hopeful more people will respond in the future. If the outcome looks bleak by the end of the summer, I plan to email it once again in August as we return to school well-rested and inspired to begin anew.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that half of the respondents were staff members who are not involved in The Fluency Project, so I already have the stage set for some comparison and contrast. What I have learned so far is that even in a group as small as twelve, we have diverse ability levels and people who can help others learn and grow in areas where some may struggle. I also discovered that many respondents used similar “buzz words” pertaining to the core values, but provided some differences in application in the classroom. Finally, I was pleased to see that all twelve respondents were very likely to participate in at least one of the three proposed activities for the 2019-2020 school year if they were offered.
In addition to the staff survey, I also created a Microsoft Form that will serve as a weekly check-in for students next school year. The goal of this five question survey will be to find out where we are meeting our students when they return on Monday mornings after a weekend in an environment we cannot control, that may impact how they fare in the classroom for the week. The first four questions are open-ended: “I am happy or excited about…” “My brain may be distracted by…” “I can be very helpful with…” and “I may need extra support with…”. The final question has a drop-down box for students to select from a list of teachers if they would like to request a mid-week check-in to see how they are doing. I am hoping this form will help establish trust by communicating to students our compassion and concern for what’s going on in their lives and reassuring them that we are there to support them. It will also provide my teaching team with important data to guide our interactions with our students for the week.
I am excited and grateful for the time we are granted in the summer so I can plan new things I would like to try with my students next year. I am also looking forward to future opportunities to connect, collaborate, and share with you all.