Friday, 1 March 2019

Article Study: A Measure of Concern

Simcoe County District School Board is currently offering a number of leadership opportunities for interested staff. One of these opportunities is an article study series, with a focus on instructional leadership. We are using a number of formats to facilitate discussion of a series of articles. For this article, we will be using a blog format. Visit this this blog anytime between now and March 19. Use the “comment” feature at the bottom of the page by clicking where it shows the number of comments in orange (see picture below). This will allow you to make a comment. Use this feature to answer the posted questions.

Be sure to check back through the week to see what others have posted and reply to their posts. Anyone is welcome to participate and add to the conversation!

Article Link
A Measure of Concern

Article Summary
Every educational leader has likely faced challenges at some point when trying to support change practices. Staff are often at different stages of understanding and implementation, and this variance can present challenges to productive collaboration related to school improvement.

Traditionally, teacher voice in professional learning may have been thought about as teacher preference, and may have looked like a school administrator giving choices for topics or pathways of professional learning. However, the ways that leaders respond to voice can either move the school community forward with depth and focus, or can cause teams to go a mile wide and an inch deep when attempting to respond to a wide range of opinions on staff.

Based on this premise, the “Stages of Concern” framework is a developmental progression of seven stages that describe the feelings and motivations a teacher might have about a change in practice as it is implemented. School leaders can use this model to support school improvement planning while working to investigate and reframe the concepts of “voice and choice” in terms of “readiness and concern”.

Previously, instructional leaders may have thought of these concerns as people being “negative” or “resistant”. This model changes that perspective. Through the Stages of Concern, leaders are encouraged to discuss and address concerns rather than trying to silence the voices that seem to challenge the change that is being implemented. The Stages of Concern framework honours individual concerns as a valid part of the change process, where voiced concerns become “assessment for learning” and “assessment as learning” information for the instructional leader, informing the ways in which they support the people they work with. It then allows leaders to differentiate and plan targeted professional learning to meet the self-identified needs of teachers, all the while, honouring voice and building relationships.


1- How does the “Stages of Concern” model make you rethink the concept of “resistance”?

2- Considering your current job embedded context, how might the “Stages of Concern” model support your practice related to instructional leadership? What are some specific “takeaways” that you want to try?

3- After reading this article, what are some questions that you have? Participants are encouraged to provide feedback on questions that are posted.


Holloway, K. (2003). A measure of concern: Research based program aids innovation by addressing teacher concerns. National Staff Development Council Tools for Schools.

Retrieved from

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Collective Efficacy Book Study- Chapter 5

This week, we are concluding our book study with a face-to-face meeting and celebration of our work!

Chapter 5
Leaders Utilize a Collaborative Inquiry Framework to Organize Actions

Chapter Summary

“Leaders should be doing, and should be seen doing, that which they expect or require others to do” (p. 76)

Chapter 5 outlines a collaborative leadership inquiry four-stage model of plan, act, observe, asses. The chapter delves into each of the four components using a lens of leadership to share some best practices, tools and ideas around how this model might be best facilitated in order to enhance collective efficacy within a school.


Q1- Based on the information in this chapter as well as your own professional experience, how might you go about determining a meaningful focus for leadership inquiry?

Q2- What coaching, mentoring and facilitation skills might support you in your leadership work related to the topics in this book?

Q3- What is your biggest takeaway from this book?

Q4- What is the one thing that you might commit to doing differently as a result of reading this book?

Q5- As you reflect on the format of this book study, what worked well for you? What did not work well? What suggestions do you have for future book study formats and content?

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Collective Efficacy Book Study- Chapter 4

This week, our group has chosen a collaborative Google Slides format for our book study conversation. Instructions for this format are as follows.
  • Link to Chapter 4 Book Study via Google Slides
  • Participants should visit the Google slide deck between Nov. 22-28th, read the questions and use a blank slide to share your responses 
  • Feel free to add slides and comment on each other’s ideas. 
  • We encourage you to use words or even creative!
  • Be sure to check back through the week to see what others have posted and reply to their posts.
  • SCDSB staff will have access to the link. Non-SCDSB staff who would like to participate can comment on this post and provide their email address to be added.
Chapter 4
Enhancing Collective Efficacy Through Professional Protocols 

Chapter Summary

“When educators engage in continuous learning, student learning is improved” (p. 51). Research has identified seven characteristics of professional learning. 

Effective professional learning is...

  • Ongoing 
  • Reinforces meaningful collaboration
  • Grounded in educator practice
  • Involves reflection based on evidence of student outcomes
  • Increases teacher influence
  • Builds capacity for leadership
  • Taps into sources of efficacy

This chapter also outlines several learning structures that enhance collective efficacy. These include:
  • Teacher networks
  • Collaborative teacher inquiry
  • Peer coaching through a cycle of co-planning, co-teaching, co-analysis and co-reflection

Lastly, several efficacy enhancing protocols are outlined as guidelines to help focus and deepen conversations.


Q1- Reflecting upon your current work environment, how might you apply one of the efficacy enhancing protocols discussed in this chapter to foster greater collective efficacy within a team that you currently working with?

Q2- Donohoo focuses her discussion on teacher professional learning . How can this knowledge be provided to professional learning for administrators? What are some of the learning structures that have worked for you OR what are some learning structures that you would like to see?

Q3- “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” What are some of your “failed” learning experiences that you have organized or led as an administrator or leader? Why do you feel they failed? What did you try afterwards or what might you do next time?

Q4- In the book, we read that leaders of professional learning must capitalize on social persuasion as well as teachers’ emotional reactions to tasks. As a leader, how can you apply this to the learning in your school?

Q5- What has been the most powerful professional learning experience in your career in education? What were the conditions that made this experience so impactful?

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Collective Efficacy Book Study- Chapter 3

This week, our group has chosen a Twitter chat format for our book study conversation. Instructions for this format are as follows:
  • If you do not have one already, create a twitter account
  • Follow @A_J_Golding and @jmerkleyjoanne
  • Log in on Thursday November 15th at 4:30
  • Alison will be posting the questions, watch her feed. A new question will be posted approximately every 10 minutes
  • Questions will be posted as Q1 (Question 1), Q2 (Question 2) etc. 
  • To keep it easy to follow, participants should reply by starting their post with A1 (Answer 1, corresponding with Question 1) etc. 
  • Use the hashtag #scdsbCE with every post you make. This way, you can click on the hashtag, then click on “latest” at the top of the feed so you can view all of your colleagues posts and replies in order. 
  • Feel free to respond to each others’ posts as well as to the questions by using the “reply feature” but make sure you still use the #scdsbCE hashtag
Chapter 3- Fostering Collective Teacher Efficacy

Chapter Summary

“Fostering collective teacher efficacy to realize increased student achievement involves creating opportunities for meaningful collaboration, empowering teachers, establishing goals and high expectations, and helping educators interpret results and provide feedback.” (p. 35) 

In this chapter, six enabling conditions for fostering collective teacher efficacy are shared. These include:
  • Advanced teachers influence
  • Goal consensus
  • Teachers’ knowledge about one another’s work
  • Cohesive staff 
  • Responsiveness of leadership 
  • Effective systems of intervention

Q1- One of the enabling conditions for fostering collective teacher efficacy is when teachers have opportunities to learn about each other’s’ work. What opportunities can school leaders create for their teachers to learn collaboratively? 

Q2- Leaders can support the conditions for efficacy by developing a culture where teachers each have a role in achieving a shared purpose as part of a larger team. How might leaders increase this sense of interdependence between teachers? 

Q3- Responsiveness calls for leaders to address situations that prevent the team from carrying out their duties effectively. How might school leaders respond to these situations in ways in which the team feels supported? 

Q4- When teachers feel empowered as part of a decision making process, they become more invested, believe in their ability to successfully carry out those decisions and collective efficacy increases. How can school leaders create a culture where teachers are involved in decision making?

Q5- What are some ways that leaders can provide feedback and create opportunities for peer feedback and self-reflection with school teams about their impact on student learning in order to set direction and next steps?

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Collective Efficacy Book Study- Chapter 2

This week, our group has chosen a blog format for our book study conversation. Instructions for this format are as follows:

Visit this post anytime between November 8th and November 14th. Use the “comment” feature at the bottom of the page by clicking where it shows the number of comments in orange (see picture below). This will allow you to make a comment. Use this feature to answer the posted questions. Be sure to check back through the week to see what others have posted and reply to their posts.

Although this is the only week we will be using the blog to conduct our study, questions will be posted on the blog every week for reference.

Chapter 2- Consequences of Collective Teacher Efficacy

Chapter Summary

“When a sense of collective efficacy is present, staffs maintain a school environments in which students feel good about themselves. They also engage in more productive behaviours that support positive student outcomes.” (p. 13)

Positive consequences of collective teacher efficacy discussed in this chapter include:
  • Putting forth greater effort and persistence, especially aimed toward students experiencing difficulty 
  • Trying new teaching approaches based on effective pedagogy
  • Conveying high expectations to students 
  • Fostering learner autonomy (student-centered teaching) 
  • Decreasing disruptive behaviour
  • Increased commitment 
  • Enhanced parent involvement 


Q1- “When teachers expect their students to perform at high levels, they do” (p. 15). How can school leaders help cultivate the belief that students in their school can meet high expectations?

-Q2- “When efficacy is high, teachers are more accepting of change and more likely to try new teaching approaches” (p. 15).  What are some actions taken by school leaders that you think would create these conditions conditions?

Q3- “Student centred classrooms move the focus from teaching to learning” (p. 21).. How can school leaders help create the conditions where students have responsibility in some of the decisions made regarding their learning and the implementation of those decisions?

Q4- Learner autonomy, where teachers share responsibility for solving classroom problems with their students, is said to go hand in hand with a sense of intrinsic motivation.  Along with teachers fostering this condition in their classrooms, school leaders can also facilitate opportunities for shared problem solving with their students and staff. What are some ways that school leaders might do this?

Q5- How can school leaders invite parental involvement, paying particular attention to parents from marginalized populations or those who may be less comfortable interacting in a school setting?

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Collective Efficacy Book Study- Chapter 1

As part of  our ongoing learning, some of the leaders within the Simcoe County District School Board are embarking on a book study on "Collective Efficacy: How Educators' Beliefs Impact Student Learning" by Jenni Donohoo.

Meeting face to face for our initial and final meetings covering Chapters 1 and 5, our group has decided to "meet" virtually for Chapters 2, 3 and 4, trying a different format each week.  Week 2's meeting will be via responses on a blog post, week 3 will be collaboration via twitter chat and week 4 will be through a collaborative Google slide deck.  At our final meeting, we will discuss our experiences with the different formats and share ideas about other formats that we might try with the intent of setting direction for future book studies.  Although we will be "meeting" via a different format each week, I will post our weekly questions here for easy reference and so that others' might follow along and join in with our learning.

Happy reading!
Chapter 1- Collective Teacher Efficacy 

Chapter Summary

“Amazing things happen when a school staff shares the belief that they are able to achieve collective goals and overcome challenges to impact student achievement” (p. 1). Collective teacher efficacy can be defined as teachers’ shared belief in their ability to reach all students to positively influence achievement outcomes. In Chapter 1, Donohoo shares research that indicates collective teacher efficacy outranks every other influence on student achievement, including socioeconomic status, prior achievement, home environment and parental involvement. Donohoo goes on to identify four sources that shape collective efficacy beliefs; mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion and affective states.

Connection to other research:
John Hattie (Visible Learning), Peter Dewitt (Collaborative Leadership), Stephen Covey (Seven Habits…)

  • What is the role of leadership, both formal and informal, in fostering collective teacher efficacy within our schools? 
  • According to Donohoo, the most powerful source of collective teacher efficacy are “mastery experiences”, defined as teams experiencing success and attributing those successes to causes within their control. Share some examples of where you see this happening in your school.
  • The second most powerful source of collective efficacy is “vicarious experiences”. This is when teachers see colleagues facing similar challenges to their own overcoming those challenges and as a result feel that they too can overcome those obstacles. What are some ways that we can tap into creating vicarious experiences for our staff members? 
  • What role might school climate play with respect to collective teacher efficacy (or vice versa)? 
  • If we all have “an emotional bank account,” based on deposits and withdrawals what behaviours and actions of a leader serve as deposits. Which act as withdrawals? How does impact collective efficacy?

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Mathematical Mindsets Book Study Questions

This week, staff at Holly Meadows are embarking on a book study on "Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students' Potential Through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching" by Jo Boaler.  

How can we help all children know that they have vast mathematics potential? How can teachers instruct in a way that brings this belief to life? Jo Boaler- Stanford researcher, professor of math education, and expert on math learning- has studied why students don't like math and often fail in math classes. She's followed thousands of students through school to study how they learn and to find the most effective ways to unleash the math potential in all students. Her work has identified gap between what research has shown to work in teaching math and what happens in schools and at home. Boaler translates Carol Dweck's work around 'mindset' into math teaching, showing how students can go from self-doubt to strong self-confidence, which is important to math learning. The message behind this book pushes us to understand the power of mindsets in relation to math learning and how our approach as educators can help students realize the joys of learning and understanding math and improve outcomes for students. (adapted from Boaler, 2016)

I will be posting our weekly questions here as a central location for staff to access the weekly content,  as a forum for them to make comments and to share with others.

Chapter 1 The Brain and Mathematics Learning 
(April 12 reading and discussion)

Chapter Summary

As we encounter new learning, synaptic connections within the brain create lasting pathways and connections.  The more complex and challenging the learning, the deeper these connections will be. This is the foundation for our work with students, providing opportunities for mistakes to be made, feedback to be provided and learning to occur.

Chapter Questions
  • What flaws can be pointed out around the idea of being "developmentally ready" for math? 
  • What vital math experiences are some students lacking in schools? 
  • How can educators work with parents to promote the use of language that develops growth mindset in learning? 

Chapter 2 The Power of Mistakes and Struggle 
(April 12 reading and discussion) 

Chapter Summary

"Every time a student makes a mistake in math, they grow a synapse" (Boaler, p. 10)

Making a mistake is a good thing. Research has found that student's brains respond with increased activity when they make mistakes compared to when their answers are correct. This truth is even greater for individuals that display a growth mindset.

Chapter Questions

  • How as educators, can we create a safe and trusting environment where mistakes are acknowledged, valued, celebrating and used as a foundation for new learning? 
  • How can we encourage our students to persevere through challenges? 
  • Which strategy for valuing mistakes resonates with you? What are some other ways to show the value of mistakes?

Additional Reading- The man who's fighting girls' "mathematophobia"

Chapter 3 The Creativity and Beauty in Mathematics 
(April 19 reading and discussion)

Chapter Summary

"Math is too much answer time and not enough learning time." 

This chapter discusses the assertion that math is different from other subjects and that this is due to some widely  held misconceptions about math:
  • that math is only about right and wrong answers
  • that math is all about numbers 
  • that being good at math means being fast at math 
Many parents  and even teachers had negative math experiences in school and struggled to learn the subject but still believe that the same teaching practices must continue because that is the only way they know. 

This chapter shares studies that indicate that when students are given opportunities to pose real math problems, transition from real world to math models to perform calculations, communicate their thinking and then return to the real world model to see if their question was answered, they become  more deeply engaged and  perform at higher levels.

Additional Reading- Yes, I Can! Paying Attention to Well-Being in the Mathematics Classroom (Ministry of Education Capacity Building Document) 

Chapter Questions
  • What aspects of mathematics do you find to be creative or beautiful? 
  • What messages do we send about math when we give written diagnostic assessments the first day? What are some other ways we can gather diagnostic data from our students? 
  • Many students  only think of math simply as a series of answers. What sort of changes can we make in our classrooms to encourage the important mathematical aspects of communication of deep thinking and making connections? 
  • Mathematics is not solely about calculation.  Looking at the chart on page 27 based on the work of Wolfram, how much time do students in your class spend on stage 3 (calculating) vs. the other stages?  How might we change this?

Chapter 4 Creating Mathematical Mindsets: The Importance of Flexibility with Numbers  
(April 19 reading and discussion) 

Chapter Summary

As children and infants, we engage with mathematical play as a natural part of development.  Stacking blocks, noticing and creating patterns and exploring and experimenting with the world around us.  Traditionally in North America, when students begin school, this natural curiosity is replaced by memorization of a dry set of methods that are associated with dislike of the subject which fails to make meaningful connections.  To truly and meaningfully engage with math, students should not take a single method and practice it over and over again.  This doesn't teach them the knowledge, concepts and relationships that are the building blocks of mathematical thinking.  Rather, students need to be given opportunities to work on mathematics as a whole, considering a variety of ideas and applications, making connections, solving real problems and communicating reasoning.  The most important start we can give to our students is to allow and encourage them to explore, experiment  and play with  numbers, shapes and patterns, communicating their thoughts, questions and ideas throughout the process.

Chapter Questions
  • Research by Gray and Tall (p. 35) showed that students who simply followed pre-taught memorized algorithms (vs. those who experimented with different methods and used math more flexibly) achieved lower on math tasks.  What are your beliefs on facts vs. flexibility and how do our actions in class align (or not align) with these thoughts?
  • Our FDK program in Ontario has already made many changes to align with the premises in this book.  What lessons might educators of other grades learn from this revised approach to teaching and learning? 
  • Consider the following quote, "There are some math facts that are good to memorize, but students can learn math facts and commit them to memory through conceptual engagement with math. Unfortunately, teachers and parents think that because some areas of math are factual, such as number facts, they need to be learned through mindless practice and speed drills.  It is this approach to early learning about numbers that causes damage to students, makes them think that being successful at math is about  recalling facts at speed and pushed them into a pathway that works against their development of a mathematical mindset." (p. 37)  What are some tasks you have used in your classroom recently that encourage flexible thinking vs. memorization of facts?  How are these tasks different than those you may have used at another point in your career and what prompted you to make the change in your practice? 

Additional Reading and Next Step

As we read the next five chapters, consider this OAME link on creating rich math assessment tasks and be prepared to share some tasks you have created and changes in practice you have adopted as a result of our book study work.

Chapter 5 Rich Mathematical Tasks
(April 26 reading and discussion) 

Chapter Summary

Teachers have a great influence on students. They have the power to create excitement in the classroom and share positive messaging that supports the development of students' feelings about school and the  subjects they are learning. The types of tasks, materials and resources that teachers  provide their students to engage with can mean the difference between inspiration and disengagement in their students.

This chapter suggests six questions that support the creation of rich mathematical tasks:

  • Can you open the task to encourage multiple pathways, methods and representations?
  • Can you make it an inquiry task?
  • Can you ask the problem before teaching the method? 
  • Can you add a visual component? 
  • Can you make the task low floor, high ceiling?
  • Can you add the requirements to convince and reason? 

Chapter Questions
  • Discuss a rick task that you have used recently in your class.  What about the task made it a rich task?   How did it go and what might you have done differently?
Additional Resource

Here is a link to a conversation tool for worthwhile math tasks.  When working with grade partners to co-plan, this is a fantastic tool to support discussion around tasks that support the purpose of your lesson.

Chapter 6 Mathematics and the Path to Equity 
(April 26 reading and discussion) 

Chapter Summary

"Mathematics has the greatest and most indefensible differences in achievement and participation for students of different ethnicities, genders and socioeconomic levels of any subject taught" (p. 93)

To achieve higher levels of achievement and more equitable outcomes in math, we must recognize the elitist role that math plays in society.  Society often puts math on an intellectual pedestal, believing that people that can calculate more quickly are somehow more intelligent than others.  We need to challenge this thinking in order to open the study of math up to all students and truly empower all students to succeed.

This chapter offers six equitable strategies to make math more inclusive:
  • Offer all students high level content
  • Work to change ideas about who can achieve in math
  • Encourage students to think deeply about math 
  • Teach students to work together 
  • Give additional encouragement to groups that have been traditionally marginalized 
  • Change the nature of homework 

Chapter Questions
  • What inequities are present in our math classrooms and how can we work to overcome these?
  • Based on the discussion of homework on pages 107-109, what are your thoughts about homework?

Chapter 7 From Tracking to Growth Mindset Grouping 
(May 3 reading and discussion)

Chapter Summary

If students spend time in classes where they are given access to high-level content, they achieve at higher levels. Research shows that the brain has the capacity to grow and rewire at any time.  Streaming students into higher and lower level classes not only delivers a fixed mindset message, but  denies the opportunity to learn at a high level to all students and limits their achievement.   Additional studies show that countries with the highest and most equal achievement in math (Korea, China and Finland) reject the concept of ability grouping.  Conversely, countries that have the strongest correlation between achievement and socioeconomic status have a tradition of streaming.

Additional Resource

During last weeks meeting, we discussed Graham Fletcher's "Progressions" videos. Here is a link to the videos. I encourage you to take a minute and watch one or two that would  be appropriate to the grade you  teach.

Chapter 8 Assessment for Growth Mindset 
(May 3 reading and discussion)

Chapter Summary

We want students to be engaged and intrinsically motivated in their learning.  Since math is often taught as a performance subject, students who are most motivated are those who are extrinsically motivated, getting incentive from high grades.  The result is that those who are already achieving at high levels continue to be motivated, but the rest of the students are de-motivated.

Shifting from a grade to a feedback focused classroom is an amazing gift that teachers can give to students, freeing them from defining themselves as solely a grade and shifting the focus on what they can do to improve. This shift toward giving the students the information they need to learn well, accompanied with growth mindset messaging has the power to dramatically change the classroom environment and students attitudes toward and achievement in math.

Some strategies suggested for supporting students to develop self-awareness include:
  • Self assessment
  • Peer assessment 
  • Traffic lighting (p. 159)
  • Jigsaw groups 
  • Exit tickets 
  • Online forms 
  • Doodling
  • Students designing their own questions

Task for May 3 (in lieu of Chapter questions for Chapters 7 and 8) 

Bring a "traditional" (textbook task) or closed task at your grade level to the meeting.  We will work together using the conversation tool  to discuss how the task might be improved and discuss how we might we assess each of these tasks.

Chapter 9 Teaching Mathematics for a Growth Mindset 
(May 10 reading and discussion)

Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the importance of setting norms in the classroom that clearly place value on the development of growth mindset.  The 7 norms discussed in this chapter include:

  • Everyone can learn math to the highest levels.  Students are encouraged to believe in themselves and work hard. 
  • Mistakes are valuable and help your brain grow. It is good to struggle and make mistakes.
  • Questions are really important. We should always be asking and answering questions.
  • Math is about creativity and making sense.  Math is about visualizing patterns and creating solution paths that others can see, discuss and critique. 
  • Math is about connecting and communicating. Represent math in different forms- words, pictures, numbers, graphs, equations...the possibilities are endless!
  • Depth is more important than speed.
  • Math is about learning, not performing. 

Chapter Questions

  • When working with students, how can we ensure that we are not  doing the mathematical thinking for them? 
  • Which one of the norms discussed in this chapter resonates most with you? Why?
  • The conclusion of this book stated, "Now it is time for you to invite others onto the pathways you have learned..." (p. 208).  Moving forward, how might we share the messaging from this book with other staff members? 

Additional Resources 
For those that want to delve deeper into this topic, here is a link to some fantastic "Math Mindset" resources from YouCubed (including posters of the norms discussed in this chapter).  Additionally, here is another link from YouCubed including a teaching guide to the 5 Mathematical Mindset Practices and videos to accompany each.


Boaler, J., (2016). Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing students potential thorough creative math, inspiring messages and innovative teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.