Learning is serious business at Detroit Prep for both students and staff. While evidence of student learning might be readily apparent to any visitor to our school, evidence of professional learning might be a little harder to spot; you would probably have to snoop in the back conference room or stay late on an early release day to really get a glimpse of the work our team does! Even though it’s behind the scenes, the team at DP works hard to continuously improve our teaching practice and our students’ learning experiences. Throughout the year, the DP team works both on common learning goals (mostly during professional development(PD) time on Friday afternoons) and on individualized learning goals (during one-on-one check ins with Jen, our school leader). To give you an idea of what this actually means, let me share with you a little of what we have worked on as a team and what I have worked on as a teacher.
Recently, the instructional team finished an in-depth study of how to use learning targets (the EL version of learning objectives) with students. Using many of the same protocols we use with students, we worked during our Friday PD time to write and improve learning targets. We then progressed to discussing how to unpack (explain) and debrief (reflect on) learning targets with our crews. After about a month of study, we are now observing each other teach to see how effectively learning targets are being used.
Personally, I have recently been working on helping my Kindergarteners become more independent and proficient writers. Together with Jen, I created specific goals for my crew during writer’s workshop. The goals are for students to write a sentence or more and to operate as independent writers who persevere without teacher prompting. Each week Jen and I have been working on small steps to improve my teaching practice and to get my students closer to these goals; we have analyzed student work, reviewed lessons and co-planned.
As a teacher, I feel incredibly grateful to work in a school community where professional learning is prioritized. We truly practice what we preach in that we not only ask students to “grow their brains” and work hard to learn new things but we also do the same. Our crew is committed to learning and growing together.