The Writing's on the LDC Wall
As educators, we are provided with plenty of professional development training—some which seems beneficial and others which seem like time that could have been better spent elsewhere. For our initial group of LDC cohorts, LDC didn't just prove to be beneficial, it proved to be revolutionary. The writing was on the wall for us—literacy was EVERYWHERE and it wasn't going ANYWHERE. For us, the graffiti was bold and flashing neon; for others it was more of a subtle bit of cursive writing hidden in a corner. As LDC Lead & Learn Fellows this year, we were able to showcase how we have created a growing "collaborative culture" within our building. For those who were unable to attend, we want to share how to start your own LDC revolution with a few of our tried and true strategies.
Strategy #1: Start small. After attending a very well designed LDC training, it became obvious that we weren't going to be able to pump out a module in just a few hours and call it a day. This is a LARGE process that takes constant reflection, revision, and sometimes tears. Just ask Becca, Marci, and Chelle—they rewrote and scrapped an entire module... TWICE. This is one of the larger roadblocks for many teachers so encourage them to start small! Don't feel pressured into creating an entirely new module; use the LDC CoreTools library to search for similar modules and modify from there.
Again, modules can seem overwhelming especially for the teacher who throws down excuses about "extra stuff to teach" and "this is going to take up time that I need for other content." Encourage those teachers to consider a few things before they decide against LDC. First, literacy is present in all classes and should be incorporated with a topic or unit that you already teach. Second, encourage them to teach the mini-task skills before the LDC module—this helps to streamline the timeframe of a module if students are already familiar with and using the necessary skills. Possibly even model some of these mini-tasks at teacher-led professional development sessions in your district. Modeling can give fellow educators confidence to try new strategies in their own classroom.
Strategy #2: Create a common language. By developing a language that is used throughout an entire building or campus, you not only create a culture for the students that streamlines the LDC expectations from class to class, but you can also cut down on the amount of time that it takes to teach a skill. Just think, one of your colleagues is teaching students how to annotate text and calling it “Marking Up the Text”, and you are also teaching students how to annotate text but calling it “Highlight Til' You Drop”. Same goal, different name. We worked exclusively with the English department to create a common language and it has not only cut down on our workload both in and out of the classroom, but has created consistency between classes which allow for students to easily grasp literacy concepts.
Strategy #3: Find your tribe, marigold, or wolfpack. Seek out those who may not be in your department and create a collaborative culture. Work together on modules, ask to observe a teacher who excels at teaching a mini-task, or spend a little extra time after school reviewing a document that could benefit everyone. One outlet that worked for us was after-school sessions that our literacy coach designed based upon the needs of the group. If you have a colleague holding after-school help sessions do not be afraid to attend! If you are, take a buddy. If you have attended such a session and benefited, encourage other teacher friends to attend. If you are struggling to find these people in your school, then take to Twitter (are you following @litdesigncollab?) and seek out authors of well-designed modules on the LDC CoreTools site. Please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter, too!
Is creating a collaborative culture easy? Not always but it is well worth the effort and time—we know this because our students are showing us the results!