OneThing44: Team Capacity means what?

Building Instructional Team Capacity is about Skill and Knowledge

Two key stocks build up an Instructional Team's capacity to instruct young people:  acquired pedagogical skills and a knowledge of teenagers.  These are two quite different things.  One can love and understand teenagers but be an ineffective teacher; conversely, one can have the all pedagogical strategies, but with little understanding or empathy for children, very little learning will occur.

Two key stocks build up an Instructional Team’s capacity to instruct young people: acquired pedagogical skills and a knowledge of teenagers. These are two quite different things. One can love and understand teenagers but be an ineffective teacher; conversely, one can have the all pedagogical strategies, but with little understanding or empathy for children, not much learning will occur.

As I think about my School Change Model and build its components, more elements open up to detail.  Admittedly, what is here is but an 80,000 foot view of only one component of school change: how teachers respond to gaps in student learning and improve their craft.  My thinking in these areas flows out of 25 years in classroom instruction and 12 years as an administrator (there’s a six-year overlap in there!) . . . and I am still learning!

The focus on the School Change Model this week has been on the critical stocks that constitute Team Capacity:  Pedagogical Skill and Knowledge of Teens.  

Considerable research in the last 15-20 years (Joyce, Marzano, Lemov, Danielson) and even more so in the last five years (ASCD, Gates Foundation MET) have resulted in clearly effective High-Impact Instructional Strategies that sustain ordered and respectful classrooms where teachers engage students in learning.  Researchers throughout the world  have verified the efficacy of various strategies and tools.  And teachers can (and should) learn these strategies to improve their capacity.

Likewise, what we know about teenagers has grown in the last decade in a few key areas:  cognitive science provides insight in not only brain development but also brain function –  how people learn, how and why people forget things, what happens neurally when children learn (Bjork, Coyle, Dweck).  In addition, cultural competence (West, Singleton, Gay, Payne)  is a critical set of conscious awareness and strategies that help teachers (everyone, really) build empathy for the students entrusted to their care.

Students at De La Salle North Catholic High School, Portland, Oregon

A few of the resilient, beautiful, aspiring students at De La Salle North Catholic High School, Portland, Oregon

At De La Salle North Catholic High School in Portland, the staff is about 80% white whereas nearly 80% of students are ethnic minorities, life experiences that generate quite different world views and aspirations.  As Cornel West’s famous book asserts, race does matter.

I am trying to map a system of change:  what are the key stocks within our bounded system, and how can we leverage them to improve student learning?  Maybe you can help me think this through.

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3 comments on “OneThing44: Team Capacity means what?

  1. Very interesting model. Please continue its development.

    It might be useful to adjust your model to take into account Howard Gardener’s theory of multiple intelligences. This addition would play a role in teacher, students, content, and efficacy parts of the model.

    The model should also take into account the effects of “high stakes” test taking and how that shapes what is learned and how it is taught. Many educators are actually hampered in achieving educational efficacy due to the demands of teaching to the test rather than teaching for learning.

    Also, factors outside the school frequently control curriculum “content” (limiting the range of changes) , including curriculum standards, and these should be part of the model.

    • Thank you so much for the reply, the commentary and ideas. You mention quite a few things, and I’ll take a moment here to reply.

      At this early stage of model development, I’ve kept the parameters quite broad, identifying only those stocks deemed critical, from a high-level. Gardner’s work would fall within the loop that describes teachers researching Problems of Practice that lead to PD sessions. I purposely left particular programs out to keep the model at a high aggregate level. However, it would be instructive, perhaps, to specify a model with a particular program. One would need to know that altering the model for multiple intelligences or for deep work with technology would have different parameters.

      I agree totally with the outside pressures on curriculum change. These happen at national (Common Core), state (history, benchmark recs), and district (emphasis in writing or reading or mathematics). That will likely be part of a later model iteration.

      Thanks!

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