Written by Sarah Murphy
The capital city of the great state of New York is Albany. In early June of 2013, Albany served as the site for the capital of Practice for over 100 teacher leaders from around the country and the world. And, for those of us fortunate enough to be in attendance at the Uncommon Impact Practice Perfect conference, we learned the importance of practice with a capital ‘P’.
Student achievement, teacher development, and the closing of the achievement gap hinges upon intentional practice coupled with purposeful and specific feedback. And the powerhouse team from Uncommon Schools made this clear during the two days of Practice Perfect training. Throughout the training, educational gurus Doug Lemov, Colleen Driggs, Erica Woolway, and Katie Yezzi modeled the importance of practice in all components of the educational field. Day One of the conference had our leaders framing the importance of practice for us, and then the rest of the day focused on the following: practice with practice and then the essential components of feedback and modeling.
Day Two was a day where participants learned the necessity of checking for understanding while practice occurs to make sure that practice is happening correctly. The necessity to build a culture where practice can happen comfortably was a focus of day two as well, and participants practiced ways in which to actively create a culture where practice is able to occur. In the short time we spent in Albany, the Teaching Excellence delegates (Sarah Murphy, Paul Needham, and Calvin Stocker) not only practiced but also learned what must be in place to make practice meaningful and impactful.
From the teacher interview process to lesson planning to the creation and norming of school systems around discipline, practicing skills and delivering targeted feedback for growth on those skills resonated as a critical component to school and student success. Our facilitators allowed us to be privy to their facilitation best practices, taking multiple opportunities to ‘get meta’ with us and explain the rationale behind choices made in their presentation. The Uncommon-ly brilliant facilitation team modeled for us numerous times what they expected us to do and how we should do what they expected. The resources-videos, books, manuals, and fellow educators-at this conference overflowed, and the Teaching Excellence TEam dove right into gleaning as much as possible from each practice session, video, and key point. From this excellent conference, we left with the following key takeaways:
- Guarantee that those who practice are practicing in the correct manner to build muscle memory correctly.
- In terms of feedback, variety and intentionality matter. Students and teachers deserve nothing less than purposeful feedback centered on their development.
- The book Practice Perfect is a requisite read for anyone working to develop as a teacher, leader, student, and/or human. The best practices shared in this book are clear and applicable to all. Read it. Read it now.
Teaching Excellence’s Summer Induction centers on the best practices shared in Practice Perfect, and this conference guaranteed for our TEam that we could not have picked a better anchor text to base our sessions upon. This summer, training for our novice teachers will include ample opportunities for purposeful, targeted practice and quick direct feedback.
How have YOU seen practice improve your development in a particular area? What excites you most about Teaching Excellence Summer Induction or the book Practice Perfect?