REAL TEACHING, REAL LEARNING

Official blog of Partnership for Inquiry Learning

Apply now for Math, Literacy Leadership groups

September 11, 2020


What is leadership?

Leadership comes in many shapes and sizes. At its very core, all educators are leaders because they are leading the teaching and learning in their spaces. One can lead from the classroom, just as one can lead beyond the classroom. Leadership beyond the classroom can manifest itself in the role of a grade level leader, a content area leader, an instructional coach, or as a building level or district level administrator. Beyond that, one can be a leader without having a defined role. Leaders understand that learning is an ongoing process. Leaders believe mistakes will be made and work to understand why as they strive to implement effective change. 

Leaders are vulnerable. They realize they simply do not know everything, and they believe they can lean on others to learn more. Leaders provide multiple opportunities to share what they have learned. This can take many forms. A leader might engage in a conversation in the teachers lounge; write an excerpt in the weekly staff newsletter; take a risk and try something new in the classroom; share with grade level team members; infuse what has been learned during a PLC; or lead a planned PD. 

Leadership changes from district to district and building to building. Leaders understand decisions they make must be made for their students and teachers. Leaders understand there is no best way to lead.

The Partnership for Inquiry Learning’s Leadership Groups work to elevate educators’ willingness to lead by building on each individual’s strengths. Membership in one of the Partnership’s Leadership Groups should be seen as more than professional development. Participation in a leadership group should inspire educators to make change at the classroom level, the school level, and beyond.

We are currently living and working in unprecedented times. We may feel pressure to revert to classical teaching and learning practices; or, we could utilize this unique moment to leverage our leadership skills in an effort to innovate as we examine our pedagogical practices. Now is the time to empower all students and teachers to lead in the classroom and beyond. We must use our leadership capacity to create experiences that make this possibility a reality.

Mathematics Leadership

This year’s Mathematics Leadership group will focus on effective classroom practice. Each month, we will explore an idea stemming from new literature in the math education world. We will then ask you to think about how you can take what you’ve learned back to your classroom and to others in your buildings. The start of each session will offer an opportunity for participants to share what they’ve tried in their classrooms or at their schools, celebrate what’s worked, address struggles that were faced, and collaboratively reflect on next steps.

October 6, 2020 (Tuesday – Virtual; 4:30-6:30 pm) Exploring the “Eight Effective Teaching Practices for Mathematics” 

What does quality teaching look like in an elementary classroom? This month’s session will introduce the eight practices from NCTM’s Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices. Mathematics Leaders will engage in simulated teaching demonstrations and plan for ways to take their understandings back to their own settings.

November 10, 2020 (Tuesday – Virtual; 4:30-6:30 pm) Building on What Children Bring

We can’t assume that children only know the things we teach them in our classes. We have to assume that their experiences are mathematical, even before they come to school. This session will utilize an equity lens as we examine the strengths that children bring to our classrooms.

December 1, 2020 (Tuesday – Virtual; 4:30-6:30 pm) Carefully Examining Students’ Work

What are students telling us as they complete the mathematical tasks we pose? How do we assess understanding and look for strengths beyond the stated objective of the assignment? This session will use real work samples from real children to allow participants the opportunity to see beyond correct answers.

January 12, 2021 (Tuesday – TBD; 4:30-6:30 pm) Analyzing Textbooks/Curricula for Strengths and Gaps

Rather than seeing yourself as someone who teaches the textbook (or unit of study, pacing guide, etc.) “with fidelity” or someone who rejects textbooks altogether, this month’s session will encourage you to think of your textbook as a resource. What are the strengths of a particular unit? How could you supplement the text with other ideas from your vast experiences as an educator? Leaders will leave this session with ideas for utilizing and strengthening any curriculum – textbook or otherwise.

February 2, 2021 (Tuesday – TBD; 4:30-6:30 pm) Thoughtfully Selecting Tasks for Our Students

Rather than simply turning to the next page in a textbook, effective teachers understand the strengths and needs of the learners in their classrooms. They use artifacts from daily practice to inform their instruction – whether whole class, small group, or one-on-one. This month’s session will allow opportunities for Mathematics Leaders to find, evaluate, and select tasks to keep the teaching and learning moving forward.

March 2, 2021 (Tuesday – TBD; 4:30-6:30 pm) Facilitating Mathematical Conversations

This month, we will focus on the conversations that take place in our classrooms. Who is speaking? What is being spoken? Drawing on vignettes from NCTM’s Taking Action as well as their publication, The 5 Practices in Practice, we will discuss how educators can facilitate conversations, ask thoughtful questions, and ensure all members of the classroom community attend to precision as they engage in mathematics. All of this will guarantee every student has a voice and can use it to demonstrate their mathematical power.

April 6, 2021 (Tuesday – TBD; 4:30-6:30 pm) Productive Struggle in the Classroom

Too often, we assume that those who know answers quickly are simply “math people.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. This session will highlight the concept of perseverance in mathematics. We want all students to engage in productive struggle so they become empowered mathematicians who can use their knowledge to solve problems in the world around them.

May 4, 2021 (Tuesday – TBD; 4:30-6:30 pm) End of Year Celebration

After spending a year thinking and learning together, Mathematics Leaders will use the final session to celebrate their growth. Participants will share their greatest success while reflecting on the challenge of teaching effectively in the area of mathematics. Plans will be made to continue the work, and the group will brainstorm ideas for next year’s Mathematics Leadership Group.

Literacy Leadership

This year’s Literacy Leadership group will focus on an equity framework for effective classroom practice. Each month, we will explore an idea stemming from new literature in the literacy education world. We will then ask you to think about how you can take what you’ve learned back to your classroom and to others in your buildings. The start of each session will offer an opportunity for participants to share what they’ve tried in their classrooms or at their schools, celebrate what’s worked, address struggles that were faced, and collaboratively reflect on next steps.

October 20, 2020 (Tuesday – Virtual; 4:30-6:30 pm) Exploring Equity and Education: Reclaiming the Child 

What does equity mean and what does it look like in an elementary classroom? This month’s session will introduce the Research Policy Brief produced by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Together we will create a space and open a dialogue around the issues related to fairness, opportunity, and every child’s right to participate in equitable practices in school.

November 17, 2020(Tuesday – TBD; 4:30-6:30 pm) Unpacking Our Own Histories and Identities

Our language and literacy practices are shaped by the cultural, social, historical literacy experiences in our own lives. In this session, we’ll consider beliefs, ideologies, language used, instructional materials and instructional practices that resonate with our own literate histories. And in doing so, we must also unpack our own biases, assumptions, and racisms that marginalize and oppress children of color.

December 15, 2020 (Tuesday – Virtual; 4:30-6:30 pm) Culturally Responsive Teaching: Building on What Children Bring

To teach ethnically diverse students, teachers “must deeply know and understand cultural and ethnic ways of knowing and being, and this includes the tools, protocols, values, traditions, and ways of living of the students they teach” (G. Muhammad, p. 45). In this session we will think about approaches for learning and understanding the histories, identities, and literacies of children in our classrooms.

January 19, 2021 (Tuesday – Virtual; 4:30-6:30 pm) Strengths-based Views of Children and Their Languages

Equitable practices support multilingual and multimodal learning. How do our classroom environments reflect children’s languages and language varieties and use them for both academic and social development? How do we assess understanding and look for strengths beyond the stated objective of the learning engagement? Literacy Leaders will use real work samples from real children to show how they are honoring and leveraging linguistic diversity as a resource in their classrooms.

February 16, 2021 (Tuesday – TBD; 4:30-6:30 pm) Access to Diverse Books and Enabling Texts

Most of us understand the importance of books in the classroom and have spent time and money building a classroom library. In this session, we will survey the books and materials we make available to children. How do our collections respectfully reflect the children’s own and others’ lives, languages, and histories? Do these texts and materials erase histories of people or provide insight into both universal and unique experiences and knowledge shared by particular communities?  Leaders will leave this session with ideas for utilizing and strengthening any curriculum—books, materials or otherwise.

March  16,  2021 (Tuesday – TBD; 4:30-6:30 pm) The Power of “Play”: Time, Choice, Response

Without time, opportunities for choice or meaningful response, we perpetuate inequities. This includes “the exclusion of children’s play with imagination, languages, multimodal literacies, and diverse literature (NCTE Policy Research Brief, p.4, 2016).  This month’s session will allow opportunities for Literacy Leaders to find, evaluate, and propose ways  to provide time, choice and response in their reading and writing workshops.

April 20, 2021 (Tuesday – TBD; 4:30-6:30 pm) Authentic Assessments: Getting it Right for Those That Need it Most

“Our Black students are not failing; it is the systems, instruction, and standards created to monitor, control, and measure a very narrow definition of achievement that are off the mark” (G. Muhammad, p.87). In this session, we will think together about how to better assess learning, develop skills, and cultivate intellect in ways that help all students achieve at their highest potential.

May 18, 2021 (Tuesday – TBD; 4:30-6:30 pm) End of Year Celebration

After spending a year thinking and learning together, Literacy Leaders will use the final session to celebrate their growth. Participants will share their greatest success while reflecting on the challenge of teaching effectively in the area of mathematics. Plans will be made to continue the work, and the group will brainstorm ideas for next year’s Literacy Leadership Group.





Help Us Reach 20,000 Students Annually