Monday, July 29, 2013

News: Teacher Based Team blog moves to Urbana North

Hello Readers,

Urbana City Schools are restructuring buildings next year to save money. As a result, East will no longer have 3rd and 4th graders. It will have 4th and 5th graders.
I have been assigned to Urbana North holding kindergarten and 1st graders. In the past, kindergarten and first grade students and teachers have been in two separate buildings. This year, these students and teachers will come together in one building. Teachers had Teacher Based Teams, but the teams are likely different from each other. It is also likely that the teams are at different stages of development.
In this blog, I will document the progress of our new North Kindergarten and First Grade Teacher Based Teams. Here's to a new home, a new team, and great school year!
For those of you who are interested, please follow North Elementary at our new Twitter page. We can be found at UrbanaNorth.

Julie Willoughby

East Teacher Based Team Survey Results

In the last blog, I shared the questions from the end of the year Teacher Based Team survey. The purpose of the survey was to find out where we were in our progress and where we needed to go. The link below will take you to a presentation that shows East's Teacher Based Team Survey results.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Survey to Measure Teacher Based Team Progress

This blog is a copy of the survey that our building leadership team created to analyze the progress of our Teacher Based Teams and to use as data to set the course for future progress. Our team used Google forms to create the survey for the staff. You could easily copy and paste this to Google forms to create your own survey. You will see a title to each question. This is an option in Google forms.
In the next blog, I will share a summary of the results of our survey at East.


The purpose of Teacher Based Teams is to bring teachers together to review student data and create intervention from this data. In addition, teams should discuss how the intervention went and what can be done if the intervention did not work. Teacher Based Teams is also a time for teachers to collaborate on instruction and learning strategies both before and after instruction happens. The purpose here is for continued improvement in instruction and student achievement.
Teacher Based Teams develop with time and professional development. This survey is intended to find out where Teacher Based Teams are now and how they can be better served.

Multiple Choice Questions:

Frequency of Group Data

How often is your Teacher Based Team collecting and discussing student data in group format?

Twice a month
We are not doing this

Frequency of Individual Data

How often is your Teacher Based Team collecting and discussing data about an individual student?

Twice a month
We are not doing this

Frequency of Planning Intervention

How often is your Teacher Based Team creating and planning intervention based off of data results?

Twice a month
We are not doing this

Frequency of Intervention Results Review

How often is your Teacher Based Team discussing how intervention went and what to do when intervention did not work?

Twice a month
We are not doing this

Frequency of Instruction Discussions After Instruction

How often is your Teacher Based Team discussing instruction and learning strategies after instruction has occurred?

Twice a month
We are not doing this

Frequency of Instruction Discussion Before Instruction

How often is your Teacher Based Team discussing instruction and learning strategies before instruction has occurred?

Twice a month
We are not doing this

Frequency of Sharing Leadership Roles

How often is your group sharing the role of leadership in Teacher Based Teams?

Twice a month
We are not doing this

Frequency of Sharing Notetaker Roles

How often is your group sharing the role of notetaker in Teacher Based Teams?

Twice a month
We are not doing this

Sharing the Workload

How is your group sharing the workload (for example, writing assessments, creating interventions)?

The workload is shared evenly
Some teachers are working more than others
This is a concern, because there is an imbalance in our workload.

Principal Support

Is the principal helpful to the needs of our Teacher Based Team?

The principal is helpful to our needs.
The principal is sometimes helpful to our needs.
The principal is not helpful enough to our needs.

Time for Teacher Based Teams

Do you have adequate time for Teacher Based Teams?

No, we need more time


Should Teacher Based Teams continue to be priority of the district?

I’m not sure

Response Questions:


What about Teacher Based Teams is going well?

Things to Improve

What about Teacher Based Teams is not going well?

Next Steps

What, in your opinion, are the next steps for Teacher Based Teams?

Ideas to Serve Students

How can Teacher Based Teams better serve the needs of our students?

How Data Changes Instruction

How does data reviewed in Teacher Based Teams change your instruction?

Measuring Outcome of Intervention

After intervention, how are we measuring the outcome in Teacher Based Teams?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Patterns in our Work, Ideas from other Teams, and Ideas to Grow on

In the last blog, I stated that I would not write another blog until the notes of the teachers and my notes were reviewed. In my review, I found patterns in our Teacher Based Team work and ideas from other TBTs that should be shared. Our Teacher Based Teams have grown in their work and will continue to grow in their work; and so, this blog also offers ideas for how we can continue to grow.

Patterns in our Work
The focus of our TBT work is to discuss instruction, review data, and plan for intervention. Anything that doesn’t fit in these categories should be saved for grade level meetings.
I have analyzed my notes from attending TBTs and saw some patterns that I would like to share. In every visit, I saw general discussions about instruction.  Intervention was planned and data was reviewed at 33% of all of the meetings I attended. At 25% of the meetings attended, there were discussions about specific students.

Ideas from other Teams
When I reviewed teacher notes from TBTs, some notes were missing in some TBT folders. In some TBTs, teachers bring a laptop to the TBT with them and take notes when the meeting is going on. This would save time after TBTs, ensure that notes are taken, and would also provide a review of notes for group agreement.
One of the TBTs answers these questions in each of their notes: What were we thinking? How does the data effect the group?

Ideas to Grow On
As we start to grow in our work in TBTs, we should start to hear discussions about what instructional strategies are being planned for an upcoming lesson. After the lesson has been taught, teachers then come together to discuss how the strategy worked or didn’t work and how it can be adjusted to make it better. This kind of work will move teachers into deeper discussions not only about what are best practices in teaching but what works best for our students at East.
When we look at the data, we are moving students into liked groups for intervention. It is fitting for teachers to have discussions about individual students as well. If a teacher is having a particularly difficult time with a student learning a skill, it is fitting to bring this up to the TBT. Together the team can recommend strategies to try with this student. Having a group of teachers around you that teach the same subject and grade level is a great way to get ideas and figure things out for students on an individual level.

Teachers, thanks for all of your hard work in Teacher Based Teams. I am continually impressed with the work that you are doing in your teams, and I’m looking forward to your continued growth.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Intervention in Each Grade Level

At East, we have three different Teacher Based Teams. The third grade team consists of all third grade teachers and focuses on both reading and math. The fourth grade language arts team consists of teachers who teach language arts but may teach other subjects. The fourth grade math team consists of teachers who teach math but may teach other subjects. The fourth grade language arts team does not consist of any teachers who also teach math, but the fourth grade math team does have one teacher who teaches both language arts and math.
As you can imagine, the intervention for these groups is organized in a different ways.  Third grade students do not trade between teachers for different subjects like the fourth grade students. Most of the third grade teachers work with a partner teacher for which they might share students in different subjects. For example, one set of partner teachers chooses to share the responsibility of teaching science and social studies. Another set of partner teachers break up math students into liked groups for instruction sharing students in each other’s classes. Intervention is worked out between partner teachers. Partner teachers look at data and divide students up into groups that make sense for the focused skill. This makes things a little different compared to the fourth grade Teacher Based Teams, because third grade teachers have discussions about intervention more outside of Teacher Based Teams than in Teacher Based Teams.
As stated earlier, fourth grade teachers are divided up into a language arts team and a math team. These teams discuss groupings for interventions and intervention planning during team meetings. Two days a week students get intervention in language art and the other two in math. The other day of the week is for all school assemblies while teachers are in Teacher Based Teams. When students go to intervention, those that need direct instruction go to their core teacher for that subject. Other non-core teachers work with students who do not need as much intervention. These students are doing an independent activity that allows the non-core teacher to intervene with students in the room who may need help in their core subject.
Let me give you a specific example. Let’s say it’s language arts intervention day. The language arts teacher is working with a group of children who need taught in a particular skill in a different way then originally presented. The math teacher across the hallway has students in her room that are working on a language arts paper that has been assigned to the students as reinforcement. The math teacher sees a few students in her class that she wants to work with on a skill. She pulls those students to a table and works with those students while the other students are working on independent activities.
In addition, the music teacher works with students two days a week to do an extension activity that challenges students to think of a language arts concept in a different way. The music/language arts small group is hand selected and changed frequently by the language arts team.  The language arts team lets the music teacher know what skill to teach, but the music teacher does her own planning. Two days a week the gym teacher goes into classrooms and helps teachers with intervention.  The music teacher and gym teacher are able to help with intervention, because the whole school does intervention at the end of the school day.  
Before the next blog is written, I will my Teacher Based Team notes from this year’s meetings and the notes from our Teacher Based Teams. I am not sure what direction this blog will go to next, but I feel it’s important to review these document before deciding on a direction.

East Teachers are invited to Comment on

In December, I shared this blog with my superintendent. I asked him for permission to share the blog with the teachers at East and link this work to my principal Twitter account @JulieWilloughb1. After his permission was received, I shared this blog with the teachers at East during the January staff meeting. Teachers were invited to comment on any blog that they see fit. The Teacher Based Team Blog has been an account of my point of view of our work in Teacher Based Teams. I realize that the principal will have a different perspective than the teachers in a building. East teachers are welcome to comment and correct any misconceptions that I may have to their work. As a principal, it is my job to support the work of Teacher Based Teams. It is called Teacher Based Teams however and not Principal Based Teams; and so, teachers’ point of view in this blog is not only welcome but wanted. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Where Do Students Go When Teachers are in TBTs?

Before the year started, we decided that teachers would meet weekly on Tuesdays while students were in all school assemblies from 2:25-3:05 (the end of the school day).  With this decision came the question, how do we organize all school assemblies?
Preparing for all school assemblies is a mighty task. Some questions needed to be answered. Who will be responsible for the assemblies? How will the students sit in the assembly? Where will they put all of there stuff for dismissal? What will dismissal look like after the assembly?
In the last blog, I shared that the guidance counselor had agreed to do two assemblies a month, the music teacher another assembly a month, and the teachers the other assembly each month. Originally, the idea was that we would do things in the assembly to improve behavior and discipline. Our guidance counselor incorporates this in to her lessons, and we incorporate it into the other assemblies as well. We have had a lot of guest speakers come to assemblies including a town judge, a probation officer, a fireman, a museum guide, 4-H leader, and many others. The teacher led assembly has so far been a guest speaker every time. This allows the teachers the flexibility to continue on with their Teacher Based Team work rather than having to attend the assembly.
Getting 350 students in a gym all sitting on the floor can be quite a task. I drew out a map of where students should put their book bags and coats in the hallways before coming into the gym. The first day was a little hairy. We made adjustments to what made sense, and my original map went into the circular file.
Let’s skip ahead to dismissal. How can we make sure the four staff members we have can dismiss all of these students and be outside to cover bus duty and parent pick-up? Well, we recruited the after-school care program manager who happened to be in the gym waiting to set up her program. She agreed to help us dismiss children by groups using the microphone while the other teachers took their places at the bus lines, a parent pick-up point, and in the hallway. Here are some problems to avoid that we learned through trial and error. Make sure the other teachers are where they need to be before students are dismissed, and make sure that the hallway monitor is in a central location, so all boys and girls understand they are to walk in the hallways. It turns out we needed to recruit the school nurse to step out in the hallway and help with monitoring students walking in the hallway on their way out of the building. Oh, and did I mention review with boys and girls that they need to walk in the hallways.
Now, let’s rewind to the actual assemblies. The behavior of the students in the weekly all school assemblies were exceptional at the beginning of the school year. Students were commenting on how much they were looking forward to what the next assembly might be. We enjoyed the honeymoon period (while it lasted). As time went on, some students began to test boundaries. We decided to have a pullout room for students who were showing us they could not participate well in the assemblies. These students were to write apology letters while they were out of the assembly. As time progressed, it was apparent that this was not enough of a deterrent for a portion of our boys and girls.
The teachers operating the assemblies came to me with some great ideas they had to help our boys and girls along. So, I shared with the boys and girls that if they need to be pulled out of the assembly they would be seeing me the next morning, and they would be receiving a consequence. We reviewed the form that would be used and explained that the more times a boy or girl is pulled out of the assembly the greater the consequence would be. Of course, we shared that there would be rewards for classes that did a good job in the assemblies. Happy to report, the guidance counselor said that everything was “100% better.”
As a principal, I knew that I needed to support the teachers who are helping with the assemblies. Without their work, Teacher Based Teams would not be happening on a weekly basis. We may need to adjust our work again; and so, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open.
The guidance counselor and the music teacher do a great job helping me with flexibility. When we had a guest speaker call out sick, the guidance counselor had a back up assembly ready to go. Another great reason to say thank you ask much as possible.
The general lesson with weekly all school assemblies is to think ahead as much as you can. Have a system of consequences and rewards ready to go from the start. Finally, understand that you will need to learn from your mistakes and make adjustments as necessary.

In the next blog, I will share how intervention was organized in each grade level.