Facilitative Leadership

for Intentional Learning Communities

Educators routinely engage in collaborative learning in various settings such as grade-level teams and content area teams; book and study groups; action research and data analysis teams; administrative or leadership teams, school and district committees, and many others. Often, these groups do not have the knowledge and skill to be as highly effective, efficient, and successful as they could be. Intentional learning communities in schools feature deep, efficient, effective conversations about practice and student learning that lead to action in the classroom. This includes reflecting on and making improvements to one’s own teaching, as well as supporting stronger instructional practice among one’s colleagues.

This course is designed for professional educators who have some experience with collaborative practices/School Reform Initiative (SRI) Critical Friendship and want to deepen their understanding of responsive facilitation. It will provide participants with the background information, skills, practice, and tools necessary to effectively lead collaborative, collegial groups, including groups of students. Facilitative leaders might be principals, department chairs, teacher leaders, instructional coaches, or others within a school or supervisory union. The knowledge and skills gained through Facilitative Leadership work translate into every setting where adults strive to work collaboratively. We encourage participants to attend in school teams of 2 or more so that they may provide each other with support and feedback as they apply their course learnings to their home context.

During course sessions participants will:

  • learn how to build and sustain a learning community among colleagues, creating a safe place to challenge thinking and encourage reflection;

  • facilitate growth by making practice public and engaging in reflective dialogue;

  • enact the role of participant, presenter and facilitator with intentionality and purpose, maintaining a focus on improving student learning;

  • learn about and practice:

    • providing colleagues with authentic feedback on student work, instruction and assessment design, and educator dilemmas;

    • using several techniques for reading/learning from different kinds of “texts”

    • using several methods for the collaborative examination of educator and student work;

    • using data and other artifacts to generate constructive conversations about curriculum, instruction and assessment; and

    • how to ask for, receive and give feedback on professional dilemmas.

  • reflect on how examining students’ work collaboratively can help teachers and administrators adapt their practice to meet the needs of students;

  • distinguish among the various protocols, match protocols to purpose, and analyze how protocols contribute to the development of learning communities;

  • assemble a resource kit of protocols designed to make effective use of collaboration time - grade level, department, school and district committees and work groups, etc.; and

  • plan specific ways to apply new learning in their school contexts.

Dates: July 25, 26, and 27; September 28; October 27; and November 30

Location: North Country Union Supervisory Union Central Office

Enrollment: up to 24 participants (ideally in school/site teams of 2 or more)

Instructors: Wendy Cohen (wcohen@gmavt.net) and Nancy Cornell (ncornell7@gmail.com)

For more information, feel free to contact Wendy or Nancy.

To Register: Please contact Edie Beatty (Edith.Beatty@ncsuvt.org) by May 15 with your committed interest to participating. Thanks.

Wendy Cohen, M.Ed. Wendy loves working with educators who are passionate about improving the work they do with each other and with students. She consults with teachers to design instruction and assessment practices, and to look at student and professional work to improve student learning. Wendy also works with school leaders to develop their leadership and facilitation skills. Projects outside VT have included educational consulting work in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and South Carolina. Prior to her work as a consultant, Wendy taught at Hunt Middle School in Burlington, VT.

Nancy Cornell, M.Ed, was an Associate Superintendent of Schools/Curriculum Coordinator for 23 years, focusing on professional development, school capacity-building, curriculum, instruction, and assessment. She was a founding member, and also served as the Steering Committee Chair, of the Vermont Curriculum Leaders Association (VTCLA). Formerly a high school English teacher in Vermont and Massachusetts, and a freelance writer, Nancy currently works as an educational consultant and a school board member. She is also the editor of Vermont Learning, a free, weekly online newspaper for educators.
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