Monday, September 28, 2015

Staff Meeting with a Twist

Our principal has requested two staff meetings a month.  The first staff meeting usually revolves around housekeeping and general information.  The second staff meeting revolves around our implementation of Lucy Calkins Units of Study in Writing.

This is the first time in a long time that our staff has been involved in this type of professional development.  The reading team built this session around our first session that we held during common planning time.  It was a bit tricky, as we had all 4K-5 staff involved.

The session began by asking the teachers to reflect and discuss with their teams things they had tried in their classroom based on our last meeting.  It is important for teachers to understand that there is going to be follow-through with the learning and that there are literacy coaches there to support them. When professional development merely describes a skill to teachers, only 10 percent can transfer it to their practice; however, when teachers are coached through the awkward phase of implementation, 95 percent can transfer the skill (Bush, 1984; Truesdale, 2003) - See more at:  The literacy coaches circled around the groups and listened in.  I took notes on key points that the grade levels I work with brought forth.

Then we watched a mini-lesson.  It is crucial for the staff to continue to see what best practices in the area of literacy looks and sounds like.  The video was chosen due to it's wide range of ages it could correspond to and also due to it's area of focus on personal narratives, which every grade level has been immersed in since the beginning of the year.

Link to Video:

After the video, teams were again encouraged to discuss what they noticed, what they further need, and what they are going to try.  Exit slips were also turned in.  These were given to each table to synthesize their learning.


  1. The exit ticket is great formative assessment with data you can use to plan your next meeting! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great description Rachel of your professional development offering. Taking on a complex literacy program such as the Units of Study demands constant training, feedback, and reflection. Good of you and your district to make it a priority.

  3. Matt, our principal really wanted to ensure follow-through after sending many of our teachers to Calkins training at CESA #6. So far, teachers seem really receptive to it. It is exciting to hear their conversations in meetings and listen to their workshop language as I walk by their rooms.

  4. I like the idea of splitting up your staff meetings into housekeeping and professional development. We are trying to find a way to fit in more professional development.

  5. Matthew, we are slowly learning that embedded PD is what works best. We shall see how this progresses this year! Stay tuned.

  6. Thanks for sharing this PD idea. The statistics you mentioned were powerful and proved the importance of fully engaging teachers with purposeful PD. Continue the great work.

  7. Really important point about coaching teachers through the "awkward phase of implementation." That is a really powerful step that can't be missed.

    1. Annie,
      We have lots of awkward phases in many places right now and it reassuring to the staff that there is someone there to process this with.

  8. Interesting idea! I like the idea of watching a mini-lesson - helps teachers visualize what a lesson should look AND sound like. Nice to hear that attitudes toward the PD have been positive, too!