On January 31, 2013, the Delaware Teacher Center and the Mathematics & Science Education Resource Center (MSERC) sponsored a community event titled: Transforming the Teaching Profession, Building Teaching Learning Communities. Approximately 135 teachers, teacher leaders, and administrators attended this event that featured a keynote address by Lucy West, a nationally known expert on building positive, creative, learning cultures. Lucy West, described by Lauren Resnick as “an artist of mathematics instruction,” is the author of the book Content-Focused Coaching: Transforming Mathematics Lessons.
As a former teacher, principal and assistant superintendent of schools and now the director of Metamorphosis, Inc., Lucy encourages school systems to focus on shifting school dialogue in order to engage the adults in meaningful conversations based on evidence of student learning. A proponent of systems thinking, she notes that this requires time for teachers and administrators to plan and observe lessons together, to establish clarity and deepen understanding of effective teaching and learning in action, and to develop a common language for describing and assessing what they see in classrooms.
Although the day was long and the hour was late, Lucy’s message resonated with the audience. Dr. Shelley Rouser, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Education, shared her sentiments about the evening, “I could sit here for hours and listen to her. Not only does her message uplift the profession, but she simultaneously challenges our thinking about our ability to influence those things that many people feel are inevitable.” Many members of the audience were indeed able to spend more hours in conversations with Lucy also attended the February 1st meeting of the Mathematics Instructional Specialists Team (MIST). For the past year, this group of instructional specialists has been meeting monthly to study Lucy’s book and other coaching resources and to practice the questioning and listening skills she espouses (http://www.amazon.com/Content-Focused-Coaching-Transforming-Mathematics-Lessons).
Jennifer Trievel, a coach from the Colonial School District who attended both sessions with Lucy elaborated, “Her talks were amazing! It gave me so much to think about in terms of how I can better my coaching skills and how I can help to make a greater change within our district. She gave me some much needed motivation and things to think about as I move forward! I can honestly say, the MSERC community has challenged my views and pushed me to be a better teacher, coach and professional!! I am grateful to be a part of the community!! “
If you are a teacher or teacher leader who wants to work collaboratively with a coaching community of learners, you may be interested in attending MIST which meets during the work day on the first Friday of the month. For more information, please contact Val Maxwell (firstname.lastname@example.org).