February 3, 2019 

Dear Brooklyn Families, Staff and Community,

Today's post follows a post from yesterday, but I have time to catch up on a few different stories that I wanted to share.  This year the blog has been more intermittent than I would like it to be due to multiple factors, but there are still many exciting things happening around the schools.

If your children ever come home from school saying that a bunch of adults came into their classroom to watch them learn, they would be right!  This year all of the administrators are working with a facilitator, and co-author of Feedback to Feed Forward.  The entire administrative team is reading the text and applying our learning to supervision and evaluation of teaching.  We are learning how to provide meaningful feedback to teachers by entering classrooms as a group, conducting observations and then breaking down what we saw teachers teaching and students learning.  We use the Connecticut Common Core of Teaching, Rubric for Effective Teaching to assess domains 1 and 3 primarily during an observation.  The rubric has four domains but we primarily focus on two during the observations.  The other two can be measured in different ways.  When we observe in classes we talk to the students, observe their work and conversations and we watch the student to student and student to teacher interactions.  When we enter a class there are sometimes 6 or 7 adults who enter and move around the class to find evidence of teaching and learning.  When we observe together we debrief about the lesson after we leave and determine what level of instruction and learning we observed and provide feedback to teachers about what we saw that was effective, what might be areas for growth and determine how we can support continued effective teaching and learning.  Teaching is an intense profession and although students are all in the same classroom they are never all at the same instructional level, they don't learn at the same rate, they have different strengths and areas that need support and they learn in very different ways. Teachers make thousands of decisions every day!  Our goal is to assist them with this daunting profession by being a different set of eyes to provide feedback about what is working well and how they might deepen the learning of all students in their classrooms.  I love the opportunity to watch teaching and learning!  This is a very intense profession, but it is abundantly rewarding as well!  Every day teachers and paraprofessionals assisting them are changing the lives of children!  They are giving them the tools to learn, grow and enter the world as a forever learner who will have the tools to take on any challenge they may face or that they may go looking for!   
Mr. Weaver listens to a small group reading and summarizing text in second grade!
Mr. Weaver is listening to a small group of readers reading at their instructional level and then working collaboratively to find specific facts about their reading.
Another group of second graders reading and working together.
This is another group of students, sitting in their scoop chairs, working together.  They knew just how to get to work.  When students were given a text at their level to go and work and learn facts from their non-fiction texts, it only took a minute before one of the students in the class cheerfully exclaimed to Ms. Ackley that "We already learned a new fact!"  Students were grouped together to and went off to work!  These are second-grade students who have learned the routine and know how to learn independently.  When students work in small groups they are able to read texts that are "just right" for them and they all have responsibilities to the group.  Students all engaged in more dialogue in a small group!
Ms. Ackley's group
Ms. Ackley has a small group and is guiding the learning.  She is able to listen to different students read softly to assess what their reading strengths are and how to support their continued growth.  In the foreground, you will see Mrs. Tamsin, the middle school principal taking notes for the debrief about teaching and learning.  

Teachers are using Columbia University, Teacher's College, Readers and Writers Workshop model of instruction to teach reading and writing.  These instructional strategies focus on a skill or strategy that is explicitly taught during a mini-lesson.  Students then work in small groups to practice the strategy or skill.  In both reading and writing, we have learned that students must spend significant amounts of time daily engaged in meaningful and instructionally appropriate and challenging reading and writing every day to become stronger.  We are not losing instructional time in whole group lessons that are surely not meeting the instructional needs of some of the group.  We are trying to instruct a specific skill or strategy, model it, and then release responsibility to the students to develop the skill in pairs or small groups and then independently.  We call this "I do, we do, you do" as we teach, model and allow students to apply this learning through practice.
The math team during professional development day!
Teachers are constantly learning and growing to become the best teachers they can be.  All teachers entered the profession to "make a difference"! Almost every teacher you ask will say they became a teacher to make a difference!  Through professional development, the math team, above, is learning about the most effective teaching strategies and how to release responsibility to students so they can be challenged, work collaboratively to explain their thinking and problem solving and then identify the best way that they can to solve a problem.  We are teaching students to be metacognitive, to think about how they think or to know how you know something!  Together teachers from BES and BMS are challenging themselves and growing as teachers.  I really enjoyed observing this group during a recent professional development day as they jigsawed a chapter of a book they are reading, Teach Like a Champion.  Teachers are reading, breaking it down, applying it to their teaching and then returning to the group to discuss what was working and what strategies they can share with each other or learn from each other. It is such a pleasure to watch the committed professionals in Brooklyn learning and working so hard!  I am a very proud superintendent!
7th Grade Math Class
This is the warm-up in 7th-grade math class.  As students arrive, they sit down and begin working immediately.  Every day as they arrive to class they have a warm up.  The teacher uses this as a formative assessment of where students are, what they are struggling with and when it is time to move on.  I wanted to include this to see if you wanted to challenge your math skills, and to show you what our 7th graders are doing as a warm-up.  Students are not just expected to solve this, but they are asked to solve it two different ways and to use mathematical functions to describe how they solved it.  

The answer to a warm up problem
This is an example of a problem the students had solved the day before! 

Life of a student, teacher, administrator.....I enjoy watching each of them!  It is my pleasure to see when parents come to student events to support their children in so many ways and to watch the students grow as they progress through the year!  Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to education, "the great equalizer"! 

Patricia L. Buell

Mission: The Brooklyn Schools will foster a drive for learning within each student to reach his/her greatest potential. To achieve this mission, the school will continually improve its educational programs and services to meet this community's expectations for a quality education for all.  

Posted by On 13 February, 2019 at 11:13 PM