Principals in a small group (4-10) examine evidence of student and teacher learning in relation to the TELS curriculum. Principals, through conversation, contextualize this information in terms of their school organizational and administrative dimensions such as available resources, curriculum sequence and scheduling, and assessment.
The Rationale Behind the Feature (Specific Design Principle):
The “short life” of instructional innovations is often explained by the lack of ‘fit’ between the instructional innovation design and classroom practice (Cuban, 2000, 2002; Cohen & Ball, 2000). Due to misalignment between the innovation design and practitioners’ goals and methods, the reform efforts are ignored, adapted superficially or “hybridized”; practitioners tend to integrate selected elements of the innovation with their established practice (Blumenfeld et. al, 2000; Cohen & Ball, 2000; Fullan & Stiegelbauer, 1991). Principals with coherent understanding of develop a better fit between the science program and their unique school context (Murphy, Rowan, Elmore). The literature emphasizes that principals have evolving conceptions of teaching and learning and benefit from experiences with appropriate evidence (Fullan & Stiegelbauer 1991; Hall & Hord, 2001; Keedy, 2005; Keedy & Achilles, 1997; Murphy, 2002).
Context of Use:
Professional development for principals engaged in TELS curriculum reform
November 11 Principals Meeting (with 2 teachers, Kathy and Jeff)
Conversation between Principals Barbara, Bob and Gary: Principal Barbara (to other principals):… having observed Kathy when she is using the TELS project and having observed when they are not using TELS, I notice the difference in what the kids are doing. In the regular classroom, I have seen students and teacher just work out of the text book and look for the answers. When using TELS, the conversations that they were having about what is going on in this environment revolved around, how is climate related to birds? Why are birds’ feet webbed? All kinds of different issues and questions were coming up, rather than students’ saying, ‘Well, let’s find what paragraph in the textbook to get the answer to this question.’.. the conversations were so much more involved, and just a lot richer, and the questioning and saying, ‘No, that can’t be right. And well, what about this?’ It’s a huge difference in their learning.
Principal Gary (to Barbara): Do you primarily have it in your biology classes?
Principal Barbara: Right now we do, but Kathy brought it in
Principal Gary (to Barbara): Do you have a general life classes?
Principal Bob (to teachers): Are there appropriate topics for every science class at every level?
Principal Gary: I think we have some TELS teachers, but I don’t think it is being taught. I have a cart full of laptops that I don’t think has moved or been touched since school started. And part of that has to do with the (district) tech coordinator who has not done what he needs to do to make it work… He does not have the time to make those computers available easily. There are all kinds of rules about who can touch the laptops - these are the things I’m struggling with.
December 5 TELS Principals meeting (with 3 students):
Conversation between High School Student C, PD Facilitator Diane and Principal Bev:
Student C (to principals): In TELS you actually get to do stuff, like there are molecules and you have to make different compounds in the atmosphere and you actually got to use the computer and make the stuff rather than just looking at pictures of it in a book.
Prof. Development Facilitator Diane (to students): It is very impressive that you understand something about facts, and you understand that facts are not everything. That is what we want for you. You can generalize and conceptualize. You can always look up the facts but if you can generalize you will do very well.
Principal Bev: I am very thoughtful about 9th graders who enter our high school, and what the accountability pressures are requiring us to do. We have students who enter below grade level in math...that are placed in Intro to Algebra and General Physical Science classes. General Physical Science is a really text driven situation where I think there are no labs… students placed in algebra I on the other hands are afforded biology at the 9th grade and engaged in labs and TELS…TELS would be a great hook for the students in pre-algebra but because we are driven by their math rating, they are not given access to this curriculum.
February 27 TELS Principals meeting (observing a TELS classroom)
[Four principals met at Sequoia MS to observe a TELS classroom but after they arrived at Sequoia, the district internet connection went down and the TELS teacher was unable to do the TELS lesson]
Principal Bob:…This is a great case in point. The teacher has their week all figured out and is ready-to-go with the TELS lesson, and the district server goes down…
Prof. Development Facilitator Diane: Does this happen often?
Principal Helena: No (other principals nod or gesture in agreement)
Prof. Development Facilitator Diane: But, you can’t plan for it when it does. Principal Bob: Right, so now this morning we’ve got six people who are walking in to observe the teacher using the TELS lesson and the whole district server is not working. I wonder, are there some supplemental materials that the teacher can use in this type of situation? Is there another way of presenting and explaining the same information that is in TELS, without having the students go online to do it?
Libby: Like a Plan B.
Principal Bob: Yes, there has to be a plan B. For instance, some teachers who are trying TELS would say, “I want to plan two lessons and activities for Monday morning. I want to do just one, but because I always have the thought that the server won’t work, I need to have two options.
Principal Helena: … Another thing that comes up, which we have talked about, is that there are grants available to buy the technology hardware, but there are not grants in the area of technology support, for the staff you need to keeps the programs going, to help when things crash, to fix the computers. It is the technology assistance that you don’t get the money for. But without that you can’t fully implement TELS….