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Dr. Marzano Describes PLCs in iObservation
One of the things that attracted me to iObservation was its ability to establish and foster virtual learning communities. There are some things we absolutely know about expertise; one is you have to have a well-defined model of the domain, in this case it’s instruction, and we think Art and Science does that. But then, people have to interact about that domain, some people call it the Lipper Practice ... those people say expertise, and say, well you have to identify areas of strengths and weakness and pick areas of weakness and practice those, and get feedback on that and interact with other people. And interact a lot, by the way. Now, what that implies is time, and that’s one thing we don’t have in K-12 public education in the United States. We just don’t; we will never have the time that is necessary for teachers to have this type of interaction with peers, with coaches, with administrators. Literally, we would have to tack on another 25 days or so to the school year, and those days would be devoted to teachers, not working with students, but working with one another.
Well, that’s kind of a scary situation, or frustrating situation, unless you bring in technology. When I first saw iObservation’s platform, and then the ability for teachers to have discussions about specific aspects of pedagogy virtually, and at their own discretion—now they can have that at 8 o’clock at night, on a Saturday morning, or on a Sunday afternoon—for me, it just kind of clicked as this is it. This is a solution that actually works. So now we can expect students to be involved in these reflective professional conversations, but not expect them to do it 20 minutes between classes, around a planning period or during the one or two late starts, late dismissal days that they have. So for me, it was a huge breakthrough; and I actually looked at a number of companies and their platforms, and when I saw iObservation with the power and flexibility of the platform, I said, this is it. This is the organization I would like to work with to bring my 30-plus years of research of this comprehensive model out to schools in a way that helps teachers, administrators, and just helps the system in general ... most importantly enhances student achievements.
[Debra Pickering: 2:37]
Hi, my name is Debra Pickering. I have been in education for over 35 years, as a classroom teacher, as a building level administration, central office administration. I have had the privilege of working with Bob Marzano for the last 20 years—learning from him, and working with him, with teachers all across the country. It’s been amazing to have stayed focused on research and what we know works, and then take that into the field and work with thousands of teachers all over the country. So ,this is really a good time to kind of pull all of that together, and say what do we know for sure, and how can we get this in the hands of people who can make a difference in the classroom? I’m very lucky I work with Marzano Research Lab, and work with a cadre of trainers and consultants around the country who are constantly working with teachers, rolling up their sleeves, doing the work and using what we know about good teaching to enhance student learning.
iObservation is an amazing tool. I mean ... I think I’m always fascinated by technology, and what technology can bring to the classroom. But I am also kind of a skeptic in that a lot of tools come and go, and, wait a minute, is this yet another tool to create a check list, where someone comes into the classroom and makes sure teachers are doing certain things, and then next year it’s a new list of certain things? So I kind of came into this a little skeptical, but the more I got to this platform, and the tool, the more I would say, “Oh my goodness, this is where we have to go.” And here is why: not only does it incorporate the Art and Science of Teaching, the researched based strategy, and provide a wonderful tool, but it focuses—not on everyone doing the same thing ... what it does focus on is creating conversation.
When the district or the school uses this tool, it’s the conversation that administrators have with teachers, it’s the conversations teachers have and colleagues have among each other. It’s even the conversations—it’s a funny way to say it, but—that teachers have with themselves. It’s always about trying to improve the instruction. And not only does the tool create those conversations, it has so many ways that you can look at evidence, to form those conversations. See, it’s one thing for teachers to talk to each other about teaching, and kind of validate each other, and ask each other questions, and I think that is really good. But with this tool, used to its full potential, they’re having those conversations with evidence: evidence of student work, evidence of interviews with students, evidence of assignments, artifacts from classrooms. All that evidence informs the conversation. I got very, very excited, first of all, about the conversations and the virtual conversations—which you probably know about with the platform—but also the whole emphasis on ... we have these conversations with evidence and we go back to the classrooms and we come back with more evidences to keep those conversations going. I think it could change the interactions of teachers across the country.