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The Formative Feedback Project is a collaborative curation of best practices in educational strategies, ideas, resources. Specializing in student ownership, engagement, feedback loops and collaborative, effective feedback.

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Join the discussion at The Formative Feedback Project, a collaborative curation of best practices in educational strategies, ideas, resources. Specializing in student ownership, engagement, feedback loops and collaborative, effective feedback.

Start Here: Culture of Practice

Taylor Meredith

The first of the "Start Here" series - Classroom Management - can be found here. In this series I talk about how to start a practice and suggest a few possible next steps.

What is a culture of practice?

Culture is something that is developed within a community of learners. A culture of practice is one that celebrates mistakes, learning through trying, feedback, and failure. How do you develop a culture of practice?

  1. Be a learner. We don’t know everything and we shouldn’t know everything. One of the first steps you can take to developing a culture of practice is to model authentic learning - not knowing. Admit when you are not sure of an answer or fact. Share things that you want to learn more about. Point out when someone says something you never thought of or that made you change your mind or think something new.

  2. Call your shots. Did you make a mistake? Bring attention to it. Did you do something wrong? Share it and celebrate it. Tell people when you are trying new, wild ideas - even if they might not work. Fail. Notice and celebrate when others do the same.  

  3. Ask for feedback. The first step to starting authentic feedback loops is asking for feedback yourself. More on this here, here and here.

  4. Set meaningful goals. Establishing a culture of practice doesn’t mean you celebrate when a student finally gets a 100%. Set meaningful goals with your students. They can be data-driven but there should be real life context and purpose in each goal.

  5. Have fun. Failure doesn’t seem so bad when you have someone to celebrate with.

Next Steps:

A couple of great podcasts:

 

 

Telling your story

Taylor Meredith

One of the most valuable lessons I learned while working in East Harlem was that finding and listening to individual stories makes a difference.  I began teaching a third and fourth grade self-contained special education class after 6 weeks of intensive training. I grew up surrounded by educators but had no experience running my own classroom. After weeks of small victories followed by huge disasters, I knew I had to change my approach.  

As most of you know, I entered an alternate certification program after college. Part of why I chose the alt cert route was to make an impact and help others. I did not operate under the assumption that I was going to “fix” or “save” anyone. I have met a lot of people, both within my cohort and from other alternate certification programs, who had this mindset. My students in East Harlem did not need to be fixed, they needed to be seen, heard and understood. To truly make an impact I had to understand my students, they had to understand me, and we had to work together with a common vision.

In order for us to learn and grow together we had to start with our own stories. This is no easy task - most of us have to find our story first. We have to think about what is important to us, what we wonder, what makes us interesting, what we care about. Then we have to figure out a way to tell that story through our words and, more importantly, our actions.

This began a year-long journey in my classroom - we began to look for stories in our curriculum and stories we could contribute to in our classroom and the community. We tried to celebrate our backgrounds through reading, writing and social studies content.  I often invited parents in and asked them partner with their child and bring some piece of their family story, a recipe or artifact or song, that helped us understand different backgrounds. When writing feature articles we chose topics that we were passionate about which allowed us to tell our stories in a different way. All this time we were writing our own story together. A story filled with experiences, challenges and problems solved. Throughout this exploration we continued to develop our own individual stories - we set goals, explored new things and read a lot of books. We became a dynamically different and interesting community of learners, explorers and thinkers.

This process is what I love most about teaching; helping students find their stories and tell them. I have realized that without a classroom, I no longer have a reliable venue to keep writing my own story and I have certainly stopped telling it.

I’ve felt the effects of this shift in my life outside school as well. It is hard to get to know adults (this is one of my all-time favorite NY Times articles) and I hope that I have started to tell my own story here, on The Formative Feedback Project. Throughout the year, once a month, I hope to feature someone who has an interesting story and tells it well. Some of my own, some of those I respect and learn from (both education and non-education folks) sometimes a collection of well-written stories of others. I hope that we can continue to write our stories together.

 

Feedback Forum

Taylor Meredith

Over the years I have established a group of family and friends that I call my brain trust. They are my most trusted feedback-givers whom I call on often for advice or a new perspective.

I realize that I’m quite lucky to have this group, and I think that many people would benefit from having a brain trust, even if they haven’t yet assembled one of their own.. So let’s create one here.

Do you have a question about how to give feedback?

Have you gotten feedback that you would like to discuss?

Are you unsure how to proceed following feedback?

Is there a feedback scenario you want to play out?

Would you like feedback on an idea or project?

Ask us!

Rather than a typical Q&A - we will work collaboratively to find solutions to your feedback questions.

Write to me via the contact tab on this website or send in your feedback questions via Twitter with the hashtag #forfeedback.

 

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