Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adult Conversation to Improve Teaching and Learning

I've been doing a lot of work in Oregon where I work with the principals involved in the Oregon GEAR UP Program. The project includes twenty middle and high schools, primarily in rural communities. I've really enjoyed the opportunity to work in these schools and am impressed by the commitment of teachers and principals to the success of their students.

One of the things every principal is looking for is a tool that can be used to promote professional conversation among the staff and positively impact student learning. At La Pine Middle School in La Pine, OR principal Jim Boen and his staff have adapted lesson study, first used in Japanese schools. A multi-disciplinary group of teachers work together to design a lesson, teach it while other members observe, critique the lesson and make modifications based on the critique. This process has raised the level of professional discourse at the school.

There are other structural ways to promote similar conversation. They include organizing learning walks, working together to look at student work, and organizing a book study or lesson study group. Information about each of these options is available at my website (

I'd enjoy hearing from you about your experience with these options or about other ways you use to promote conversation about improving teaching and learning.

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