Developmental Designs Newsletter, Winter 2011

A challenge for many schools is finding time in their busy schedules to fit in
opportunities for professional growth for teachers and administrators. One quick
but effective way to address this is to select from an Origins newsletter an
article that focuses on an issue relevant to your school, and then have the
staff read, analyze, compare, and apply it to their own situation. Someone
else’s experience, as described in the article, can give you a starting place
for reflection and possibly open the door to new ways to handle a challenging

What’s needed to expedite the process is a clear, workable,
enjoyable format for the discussion. Here are some examples of how your staff
might consider the articles in this newsletter. These examples might then serve
as a menu of models to apply to other articles in this or other publications.

Article: Language and Mindsets for Effective

Before the meeting
Read the article and
describe from your own practice one example each for the three optimal teacher
mindsets: Growth, Action, and Objectivity

During the

Discussion is held in a circle, or in more than one circle if
group is large.

Greeting (3 minutes): Meet and mingle in the
circle, greeting as many people as you can.

Triads share their
mindset stories. (5-10 minutes)

Spend the Dot (15 minutes): Post
the “top ten deflectors” and “ten key points for teachers” on charts around the
room (2-3 per chart to save space). Participants are each given a colored marker
to place dots next to their three favorite deflectors and their three favorite
key points. After everyone has “spent the dots,” discuss the results: Which
strategies are most popular? What is particularly effective about them?

Partner share (10 minutes): What strategy are you willing to try
in your classroom?

Share out: What strategy did you choose, and
why did you choose it?

Article: Developmental Changes Prompt
Changes in Routines

Before the meeting
Read the article
and list the daily routines that you use to structure your advisory period
and/or your class hours. Rate the degree to which each routine is orderly and
effective on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the most effective.

During the

Discussion is held in a circle, or in more than one circle if
group is large.
Greeting and share (3 minutes): Partners greet with a
handshake; each briefly describes a routine that is somewhat problematic in his
or her classroom.

Problem-solving meeting (15 minutes): Using the
format for a problem-solving meeting provided in the article, address together
the problem of students failing to follow routines well. One person, the leader,
guides the group through the steps of a problem-solving meeting:

Getting to the Root of the Problem:
Do a round-robin process in which
everyone comments on the challenges of establishing and maintaining a

2. Brainstorming Solutions: Using ideas from the article
and elsewhere, suggest strategies for addressing those challenges. List the
ideas on a chart.

3. Deciding: You may come to a consensus
decision as a whole group about something everyone will try, or you may decide
to have each person individually choose a strategy to which they will commit.

4. Keeping Track: If your group as a whole makes a commitment to
a strategy, decide how you will track the results.
Examples: Set a date on
which all staff will notice and rate the degree to which students have followed
the routine well; or have each teacher keep a “scorecard” on how well the
routine has worked for a week. If each individual is working independently on a
routine, set up a means of gathering data and reporting the results. In either
case, the results can be anonymously gathered, collated, and reported back to
the staff. Set a date to do so.

Think/Ink/Pair/Share (10

Think/Ink: Consider the importance to adolescents of
sharing in decision-making and problem-solving, as described in the Hoyler
article. Write down some thoughts about how a structure like a problem-solving
meeting can feed their need to feel competent and

Pair: Share with a partner what you have

Share: Have a few people share their thinking with the
whole group.

Article: Everybody Grows with

Before the meeting
Read the article and think of
the “Benjamins” in your classroom. Write down a few thoughts about how a daily
community-building meeting (CPR) in advisory might help students who are
withdrawn or who actively push back in school.

During the

Discussion is held in a circle, or in more than one circle if
group is large.

Greeting (1 minute): Greet the people on either
side of you with a high-five.

Triads (5-10 minutes): Share about
students who seem withdrawn or resistant.

Carousel (15 minutes):
Create four groups and assign each a marker color. Groups choose a scribe and a

Set up four large pieces of chart paper labeled with the four key
adolescent social-emotional needs: autonomy, competence, relationship, and fun.
Each group is assigned one of the needs. Group members list all the ways they
work to meet that need, in CPR, in other advisory activities, in class hours,
and in school-wide activities.

Groups then move through the “carousel” of
charts, writing any additional ideas at each one, using their assigned marker
color. At the end, a representative from each group reads the group’s list
aloud, including the ideas added by others.
Partner share (10 minutes): How
does meeting the four primary needs of adolescents improve the chances that they
will succeed in school?
Share a few ideas.

Article study sessions
support professional growth

The purpose of these sessions is to provide a
structure that allows for a fruitful professional exchange of ideas in a brief
amount of time. The structure includes an assignment for preparation before the
meeting, a greeting to launch the time together, a format for considering
individually and as a group what has been said in the article, and implications
for your own teaching practice. The meetings end on a reflective note and
sometimes include a group or individual decision to act.

Crawford is the director of Origins

This article first appeared in Developmental Designs: A Middle-Level Newsletter, Winter 2011